Tuesday, August 31, 2010

To Live is Christ — hating sin, loving sinners

Yesterday’s vague message became clearer as God kept speaking to me. I’d read an old journal entry that made me think something had gone awry in my spiritual life. As I prayed, He showed me that my heart’s desire had been to trust people because doing so makes life much easier. This is also naive. Everyone lets other people down. I do too. God even says, “Do not trust in princes” etc. He wants a simple acceptance of the fact that we are not trustworthy creatures.

I’m fighting this. I’ve always fought it. I want people to be trustworthy. I get upset when they let me down and don’t want that to happen. I want dependability and reliability. I suppose that isn’t a bad desire, for God wants that too, but instead of trusting God with what others do or do not do, I’ve been spending far too much energy trying to cope with the facts. Instead of acceptance, I’ve been digging for reasons why this person or that person cannot be trusted. How silly. No reasons are necessary. The Lord says, “Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.” (Romans 3:4)

This seems an odd problem. I’m acting as if I need to prove that what God says is right, and I’m angry that it is true. Why do we have to be so unreliable? How do I deal with not being able to trust people? Getting mad at them certainly isn’t working.

The model is Jesus Christ. He knows what is in our heart and that we are sinners, yet He also considers us more important than Himself. He was willing to die for our sin and did so without complaint. His Spirit nudges us when we sin, but His love always expects the best (1 Corinthians 13).

That balance seems utterly impossible for me, but of course it is impossible. If I could do it, I would not need Jesus. He would not have to forgive me and cleanse me and change my life if I could live perfectly all by myself.

I talked with Him about this, and He lifted my frustrations and helped me see the reason behind it. I confessed my lack of simple faith, even fighting such a basic concept that all people are sinners. Then, as if I didn’t know already, He amazes me with His grace. I fall into pits, pity-parties, and griping sessions. He should yell at me, but instead He whispers, coaxes, hugs, and pulls me out again.

Today’s devotional reading is about that amazing grace. It is from an Old Testament passage that talks about the spiritual idolatry of Israel. God is angry at their sin and the way they have strayed from Him. But then He uses poetic and beautiful language to describe how He will restore them. He doesn’t have to restore. He has every right to banish them forever from His presence, but instead He talks about them as if they are seeds. He promises to plant them and make Himself a lovely garden. 

“It shall come to pass in that day That I will answer,” says the Lord; “I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth. The earth shall answer with grain, with new wine, and with oil; they shall answer Jezreel (means “God sows”). Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; then I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’ ” (Hosea 2:21–23)
God hates sin, and I do too. He wants obedience, reliability and integrity. But the only way any of that will happen in anyone’s life, mine included, is by God sowing for Himself the Seed of righteousness in our hearts. That Seed is His Son, Jesus Christ. With Him living in my heart, I can hate sin and love sinners, just as He does.

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