But now God has shown us a different way to heaven–not by “being good enough” and trying to keep his laws, but by a new way (though not new, really, for the Scriptures told about it long ago). Now God says he will accept and acquit us–declare us “not guilty”–if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like. Romans 3:21, 22, TLB.
Things were really going great! For at least the previous two weeks I had been abiding by everything that I had taught as a health educator. Eight glasses of water? Done! Daily exercise? Done! Lots of fruits and vegetables? Done! Adequate rest? Done! Quiet time with God? Done! Good time management ? Done! The list went on–and so did my feeling of pride in a job well done.
Then it started: itchy throat, runny eyes and nose, chills, aches and pains. “Not now, Lord, when I should be experiencing perfect health after all that I have done!” I thought, How could I possibly get the flu now? After a brief period of denial, I finally accepted that I was sick despite all my efforts.
How many times have we have patted ourselves on the back for how good we have been? Like the rich young ruler, we measure our works against the Ten Commandments, and Wow! Don’t we look good! Stealing? None! Murder? None! Bearing false witness? None! Neglect of the Sabbath? None! As the list goes on, so does our pride in our own self-righteousness. However, a closer look reveals that our “righteousness is like dirty rags,” as described in Isaiah 64:6. Our honorable deeds are still tainted with sin. No matter how much good we do, we will never be deserving of the gift of salvation, for that is what it is–a gift.
God has indeed given me much more than I deserve. Every opportunity, every blessing–even every challenge–is a greater blessing than all my work could ever earn.
So yes, I have the flu–and I also have a life stained with sin. But today I can claim God’s wonderful forgiveness and be happy as I accept the marvelous gift of His Salvation.
Dear Father, today may my eyes be opened to the wonder of Your grace as I accept the gift of Your righteousness.
from A Word from Home
Ardis Stenbakken (editor) | Review & Herald (2005)
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