God’s Glory Shines Brightest Against the Dark Backdrop
by Pastor Gene
Have you ever felt unworthy of God’s love? ‘How could He love a sinner like me?’ ‘How can it be true that I – with my history of sins and ongoing offenses against Him – could be loved by Him?’
I think every honest, blood-bought Christian has asked those questions. The more I am confronted with His glory, His majesty, His innumerable perfections, the smaller I seem.
It’s easy to compare ourselves with others – to find some other poor sinner of lower character than our own and say, ‘Hey, I’m not so bad!’ But this means less than nothing. While one man’s sins may be more refined than another’s, in the final reel both are sinners and an offense to the Holy God who cannot look upon such evil.
The apostle Paul wrote: “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding” (2 Corinthians 10:11-12).
I hope you can see Paul’s biting sarcasm here. Paul is saying, “O, we would NEVER dare to compare ourselves with those model men who love to praise THEMSELVES!” But He goes on to say that those who compare themselves to others, and seem to come out well because of it, are “without understanding.”
The truth is, all who measure themselves against the perfect standard of God’s Word come to see themselves for what they truly are: in big trouble!
No, the truth resonates down through the ages like growing circles cut into the glass-like stillness of a lake shattered by an offending stone: ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
So, when you feel unworthy, remember this: you are! But remember this too: man’s weakness is a place for God’s mercy to do its magnificent work!
The blacker the backdrop, the more astonishing the manifestation of God’s glory! After all, isn’t that how Jesus described what His glorious return would be like? Jesus said, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:29-30).
The glorious drama of Jesus’ return will play out against a backdrop that is without light from the sun, moon or stars! How magnificent will be the spectacle of our Lord’s return!
But hear this: no less magnificent is the grace and glory that shone upon my black heart and made me one of His own children!
There’s a story told about a Christian man who was sharing the Gospel with a lost soul. When the woman heard the Good News she just couldn’t believe it could apply to her. “I’ve tried to do good, but have always failed,” she said. “I’m afraid God will never accept me.” The man fell silent for a moment and then replied, “You’re right. He never will.” The woman was stunned, speechless, her face flushed. Then the man added, “But He has accepted His Son, and if you will receive Him by faith, He will accept you in Him!”
Ephesians 1:6, KJV says that we are indeed accepted, “in the Beloved (Jesus)!
Or, as the NASB renders Ephesians 1:5-6, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
We’re accepted into God’s family not because of any righteousness or goodness He found in us, because He would find little. We are accepted into God’s family because of the righteousness of Jesus, who is of inestimable beauty.
Because of Jesus – because of His wonderful, awful sacrifice – we have found favor with God. God has taken the unworthiness of all who believe and hidden it beneath the cloak of His righteousness.
And thank God that our standing with Him is based upon His favor and not our merit! For, as Mark Twain once said, “Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in!”
To consider …
- Do you struggled with feeling unworthy? How does an accurate understanding of God’s grace help you to make sense of the dilemma of God’s holiness and our sinfulness?
- Colossians 3:3 says, “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” What does this mean to you and how does it speak to your worthiness (or lack of it) before God?
- Do you ever fall into the trap of comparing yourself with someone else?
Relative righteousness can give us a false sense of security to be sure, but examining our lives against the standard of God’s perfect righteousness always exposes our deep need.
What does this teach us about grace (God’s undeserved favor)?
How does the pridefulness of the flesh keep us from seeing our need?
- Grace is more than a gift God gives us for salvation; it’s also a gift He gives us for life.
Hebrews 13:9 says, “it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace” and Acts 20:32 speaks of a grace that is not only able to give you an “inheritance among all those who are set apart,” but is also “able to build you up.”
When Paul was struggling with personal physical pain, Jesus spoke to him and said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
How does grace work in your day-to-day life?
How does it manifest itself in your daily need?
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