I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten about the mustard stain. As usual I’d thrown on yesterday’s jeans conveniently lying on the floor, black belt already threaded, in hopes of reaching Mr. Destructo before he emptied all three bathroom drawers.
Devotional Scripture: Genesis 21:8-34
Key Verse: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24
Now we were at the first of two grocery stops and there was no goin’ home (not without food). All in all it was your typical Tuesday. One boy hung off the side of the cart while the other begged to get out. Until it happened. A hair pulling, high pitched screaming, we’re-the-loudest-people-in-the-store fight over a stupid styrofoam rocket I let Mr. Three-Year-Old bring inside. Oops.
I wanted to run or hide or at least make a disclaimer. And that’s when I saw them. A perfectly quiet, well behaved, Amish family pretending not to notice the spectacle unfolding in front of them. Now don’t get me wrong. I love the Amish! I may or may not even have a small fascination with them. But at the moment I didn’t feel so giddy. I felt guilty. As if somehow I didn’t measure up.
Fighting the urge to hide in the freezer section and eat ice cream we finished our shopping and headed to the checkout. Unable to resist his demands any longer I let Mr.-Almost-Two-Year-Old out of the cart. Big mistake! A small taste of freedom and the little guy booked it straight out the Aldi door – leaving me no choice but to scream and run. Snatching him just before the parking lot I scurried back inside. Only to see the watching eyes of my perfectly proper new friends right behind me in line. Mustard stain and all I felt covered in shame. Because next to what I saw as “perfection” it was crystal clear, I didn’t measure up.
And you know what…it’s ok. Because no one does. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” As hard as we might try – no one measures up. Not to God’s perfect standard. It’s impossible by any works of our own flesh – to be justified before a holy God. Justification is a gift. A work of grace. And has nothing to do with me or you.
We gain the blessings of God – an inheritance for beyond comprehension – merely because of grace. Not because of what we do or don’t do or can do or will do. But by beautiful, undeserved, uncommon grace.
Not by works of our flesh, but by a work of HIS flesh.
This is why Ishmael had to be cast out. He was a product of Abraham’s flesh. The result of human effort, not faith. He could have no part of the inheritance because the promised inheritance was to come by grace through faith alone.
Isaac, on the other hand, didn’t earn it. He merely received it. Through an act of God’s miraculous power. The fulfillment of a promise. Just as we don’t earn it, but merely receive it through an act of God’s miraculous power. The fulfillment of a promise when we’re born again through “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit…so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5,7).
Therefore, we “like Isaac, are children of promise” (Gal. 4:28). Can we just celebrate this for a minute or two or forever? “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
“By grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:5). Not by effort or hard work or because of ethnicity or lack thereof but because of God’s grace, we are heirs of the world, just like Isaac (Rom. 4:13). With no reason to be ashamed. No reason to hide in the freezer section and eat ice cream. Because in Christ we’re forgiven, declared righteous, and living under a massive umbrella of grace.
Yet how often do we still beat ourselves up? Because I’m not good enough. Because I yelled again when I said I wouldn’t. Lost my patience. Messed up. Ate chocolate. And didn’t get my workout in. How often do we feel defeated? Ashamed? Not enough?
We must learn to accept the grace handed to us! Otherwise we will lack the confidence to be effective ambassadors of the gospel of Christ. How could we expect anyone else to accept the grace of Jesus when we ourselves refuse to live under it?
Conviction is one thing but condemnation is another. For “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). None! Only grace. Yet condemned is how the enemy wants us to feel – unfit for any good use, a failure who can’t do anything right. Don’t let him win! Rise up and remind him you’re under grace.
I wasn’t the only one in Aldi with stains. We’re all stained – every one of us! Yet Christ covers my stains with his righteousness. No I’m not perfect, but He is. Therefore in Christ I do in fact…measure up. Grace, grace, God’s grace…amazing grace indeed.
Contemplate and Evaluate
Do you allow yourself to live under the grace God has gifted you? Or do you tend to live under the assumption you’re not good enough and never will be?
Do you view salvation as something you must earn or merely receive?