Tuesday, November 15, 2011

HUMILITY: An Open Gate to Grace

Matthew 7:
    • 21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'
This is the passage I will be using to do the school wide devotional this Friday during our inservice. The theme for BCS this year is humility and have been asked to cover some aspect of the theme.

Speaking on humility is almost humorous- I can get real proud of my humility. I especially remember being asked to write a magazine article years ago for ACSI on teacher relationships and it was titled "The Heart of Humility" and when it came out- I WAS SO PROUD!

The above passage is a great pride tester. It is one of a few passages that create a sense of concern- a group of people who said 'Lord/Lord' but in the end are left out. 

Some verses in the Bible are scalpels and some are sledgehammers, many offer healing and hope- but some are designed for pain and discomfort. 

One pastor said, “My job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted”. 

So there are some powerful statements in Scripture that make us pause.. they don’t seem to fit... What is the purpose?

This particular passage is found within the famous Sermon on the Mount- a part of the gospels that you can read over and over your whole life and never seem to get it all. Its main message seems to be that religious leaders and institutions miss the mark of God's calling as soon as it becomes an outward show and not an inward disposition. The rituals of works righteousness is a compare and compete system that oppresses men and can actually inoculate them FROM the grace of God.

Sweet Jesus turns confrontational as he reveals how the Pharisee's of His day have turned God's good law into a spiritual status system.

And the key here is how the religious hypocrites respond to the Lord's critique.

In a word.... DEFENSIVE.

Christ says- 'Your heart is bad'.

And the sanitized dead man tries to self justify: "What!? Did I not do all this good stuff? I spoke up for you! I did many powerful things in YOUR NAME for pete's sake!"

    • Defending your record, demanding your rights, MAY be symptomatic of a proud and lost heart. Salvation by works says- “Look at what I have done” and Salvation by grace says, “Look at what I have done” but the answers and attitude is an eternity apart.
I deal with this some as the Dean of Students at BCS. The hardest cases are the ones where the student refuses to say that he has done no wrong. He is a victim... He has an excuse... the charges are false..he is misunderstood... the teacher is mean... and he rages at the punishment. These are the ones that break my heart and I patiently pray for God given repentance.

But nothing is sweeter than an honest and humble declaration- "I am so sorry, I messed up." Though there is still punishment.. there is grace and hope for transformation.

A beautiful letdown and a proper attitude of repentance and humility open the floodgates of God’s goodness and grace. Gospel awakening is generated in the fragile moments of brokenness. What is impossible with me is very much possible with God.

At that point we are not an outsider seeking to promote ourselves- but a son, begging the Father to forgive and trusting in Him to make it right.

But our first instinct is to hide in the garden, then deny, then blame, then alibi, then self justify...

What if Christ says- "Hey Pharisee's you are hurting and oppressing my people by making yourself powerful in self righteous, outward show."

And instead of saying- 'Lord, did we not feed the poor and adopt and do missions and go to church..."

 We said- " Lord, I am so sorry that I always do it to make me look good. I'm so sorry that my heart is proud. I'm so sorry my heart is cold.  ... I can even screw up the gospel message because my heart is so wicked."

Do you think Christ would say "Depart from me?" 

I believe in that moment of true humility He would race to you and  wrap His loving arms around you and say... I understand.. It's OK my son"

Don’t be afraid .... allow Christ to ‘cut the heart’.

The worse the bad news- the greater the good news.

The gospel message is that good and God is that great!

The bottom line is that Christ did what we cannot do. He suffered our pain and shame. If we rely on His record, if we rest in His work- if we make it about His name- and offer no claim or stake but His... then we drink and rejoice in the everlasting fountain of His goodness and love.

May we stop proclaiming our goodness and continue to praise HIS! It is a life changing... it is world changing...

No comments: