“If I ever do a perfect act of love, I’ll probably be proud of it, and then it won’t be a perfect act anymore. Maybe if I die in the midst of performing this act, I could do it.” – man on radio (wish I knew who he was)
When I heard it, this idea struck me. Even my best efforts are littered with selfishness and pride. My “wants” show up in the most unlikely of places – even when I “serve,” I want to be recognized – or I want someone else to take notice and look at me with more admiration, etc. My service serves myself. I’m sinful. Very sinful.
Scripture addresses this too.
Isaiah 64:6 – “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.“
Romans 7:21-25 – “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
So here’s the question: How can I get rid of this? How can I serve selflessly? Of course the only REAL answer is Jesus. He alone has done a “perfect act of love” – the cross. He alone is perfect, and so all of His acts were perfect. Ours are NOT. Nor will they ever be. Our acts of service and sacrifice are always going to be tainted with at least a little bit of selfishness. We are sinners, but because of His “perfect act of love” (the cross), we can receive forgiveness and will be made holy. Our selfishness is forgiven and covered by His blood.
A perfect act of love? This is not a goal for us to attain, but a grace that Jesus has offered to us.
Miranda and I have been working onteachingour children about repentancequite a bit lately. We never really use that word, but we’re trying to lay a foundation which will make it easy to understand as they grow older. Our practice is to teach them a few things to say when they have hurt someone:
1)I’m sorry. (Stop behavior)
2) I won’t do it again. (Turn around behaviorally)
3) Will you forgive me? (Restore relationship)
After listening to a sermon from Rob Morris (Love146) I’m considering adding another element. He reminded me of the Biblical accounts where the repentant sinner’s first action was to “right” the wrong that he caused and and to even go beyond “right” to make it “better.”
Remember Zacchaeus, the tax collector who gave back four times everything he had taken? (Lk 19:1-10)
Or when the rich young rulerwent away grieved because he could not bring himself to help the poor. (Mk 10:17-22)
In Luke 3:10-14, John the Baptist is preaching a baptism of repentance and when asked “What shall we do?” He tells them to give to the poor and to treat others fairly.
Evidently, ourrepentance should impact the poor and oppressed as well.
All this is to say, I need to find some ways to help my kids see that repentance is more than my three step lesson. It should have legs on it and actions tied to it. Repentance should impact everyone around us.
Maybe we should add the question: “How can I make it better?” (Restore/Improve situation)
Lord, guide us to model repentance for our children. Lead us to the strategies that will help us to encounter You – to be confronted by sin, and to recognize that our behaviors hinder our relationship with You. Forgive us. Restore us unto You. Change us. Empower us by the Holy Spirit to choose new behaviors and walk different roads and lead us to improve the situations that we have caused in our sin. AMEN.
I was listening to a podcast by Tullian Tchividjian called “Jesus + Nothing = Everything.” In it, he described how even our spiritual growth efforts can become self-centered by taking the focus off who God IS and making it about what we do.
The intent of spiritual growth is to build our relationship with God, but I’ll confess that sometimes I find myself hijacking it for my own glory. I’m not nearly as interested in spiritual “growth” as I am in gaining spiritual “knowledge” to add to my “spiritual” arsenal or to expand the “spiritual” facade I hold up for others to see. Wow! Did that make any sense? What I meant is this: Instead of being motivated to “grow” toward God, I am motivated by selfishness to make myself look like I’ve “grown” toward God. Sinful. That’s what it is. I’m sinful. I need Jesus to rescue my attempts at spiritual growth. I’m so sick that I need Jesus to keep me from tainting the very practices that guide me toward Him. True spiritual growth efforts are motivated by the greatness of God which moves us to seek Him. Often, my efforts are motivated out of a desire to know more than my friend’s know – out of a selfish “I’m more spiritual” attitude.
I will also confess that I love the way I feel when I go to another “level” or “spiritual” high. Even a new tidbit of information or insight about the Bible is enough to make me feel like I have “grown.” My insatiable desire for more doesn’t allow me to fully rest in Jesus’ effort on the cross. This is sinful. I wrongfully believe my efforts and knowledge about Scripture is what matters. It’s NOT! What matters is God’s character. NOT the things I do, but the things He IS. What matters is the cross! Because of who He IS, He chose to go to the cross. And because of that, I am already close to Him. Even when I seek spiritual “growth” with selfish motivations, even in the midst of my sin, He died for me. He loves me fully! Right where I am He loves me. He . . . . . loves . . . . . me.
God should be glorified. Completely glorified. ‘Cause He’s great and we are not. He is faithful. He is love. He is amazing! Loving each of us no matter how sick we are. He is so out of our league. We can never understand how great He is – how great His love is. His ways are so much higher than ours. (Is 55:8-9)
I guess what I’m saying is that this hijacker wants to return this glory back to it’s rightful owner.
To God be the Glory forever, and ever, AMEN!
Romans 11:33-36 33Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 34“Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” 35“Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” 36For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
I don’t know the historical accuracy of this and the bible doesn’t specifically say, but if this is the truth of the Scriptures, then Jesus’ love for us is even more magnificent than I ever imagined. My friend Jeff Medders showed this to me. Thanks Jeff. The pastor sharing the message is Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle.
Added the next day:
OK – My friend Hans knows a guy who lived and taught in Israel for 10 years. In response to this video, he said that there have been no public latrines found in Israel and also made the point that Jesus was crucified outside the city. If there were public restrooms, they were probably not anywhere near Golgotha. He also did some digging and found that Driscoll’s source was a tour guide. Driscoll says, “I believe he was a professor of archaeology.” This is dangerous ground for making such claims. I’m very disappointed in Mark Driscoll. He has always been pretty strong at checking his sources. PS – Hans’ friend said he’d post a response on his website/blog sometime later this morning.
OK – here’s my 3rd (and hopefully final) addition to this post. It seems now that Hans’ friend is saying that the burden of proof falls on him and that there isn’t really enough evidence to say that Driscoll’s story is false. There have been no public toilets discovered in Israel, however, that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. It seems highly unlikely that they would have been near Golgotha, but the Roman soldiers who crucified many people there, may very well have had the same kind of toilets that they were accustomed to. He also describes an article called “The Puzzling Channels in Ancient Latrines” in the Sept/Oct 2002 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review in which Hershel Shanks suggests that the channels in latrines were used for the cleansing of sponges. He quotes Seneca’s Moral Epistles which refers to a “stick of wood, tipped with a sponge which was devoted to the vilest uses.” I guess all this is to say, “Hey, maybe it’s possible after all.”
Hmm. . . . I’m not even sure what to write today. I’m sitting in class right now getting ready for my 3rd NT class. So far we haven’t covered that much. We’re actually still in Matthew. I think today we’re gonna cover the second half of it. I’m not sure how we’re gonna get through Mark, Luke, and John in just two weeks, but that seems to be the plan. There are quite a few other things I gotta write about that I have already learned, but I just haven’t found the time to really get down to it yet.
Over the past few weeks here’s what I’ve picked up regarding Matthew:
Matthew wrote to the Jews for two purposes: (1) to show them that Jesus is the Messiah and (2) to explain why they didn’t receive the Kingdom they were expecting would come with the Messiah.
To prove part 1 (Jesus is the Messiah), Matthew used four things: (1) In Chapter 1, he shows Jesus as Messiah with the geneaology. (2) Chapter 2-4, he shows how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament Prophecies regarding the Messiah. (3) In Chapter 5-7 (Sermon on the Mount) Matthew shows that Jesus has the ability to grant access into the Kingdom. and (4) In Chapters 8-12, Matthew shows Jesus doing miracles, which again proves Him as Messiah.
For Matthew’s second purpose in writing His book, (explaining why they hadn’t received the Kingdom if the Messiah had come) Chapter 12-28 cover that. In Chapter 12:31-32, we see the unpardonable sin. It makes sense, that this is the unpardonable sin, because Jesus is speaking to the Jews. They had rejected the prophets who spoke God’s own words – thereby rejecting God, the Father. They had rejected Jesus, and now they were rejecting the Holy Spirit. This is the unpardonable sin because God has no more revelation in which He reveals Himself so that people can be saved. If each of them – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have been rejected – there’s no where else to go for pardon.