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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Good morning my church family on this Monday bright and early (actually I am an hour behind today lol). I did not hear yesterday’s message but will go back and do so- it sounds like a great one! How humbled I feel that God would accept such a sinner as me because of a belief in the gift Jesus gave. Yesterday as I talked to our preteen/teens our lesson was about friendships and about Naomi and Ruth. During our lesson I asked the question – which surprised me when they answered – how do we get to go to heaven – I got praying – believing in God (very close)-doing good- going to church- I said there is only one way to go to heaven what is it – I had two people chime up Jesus. So I went on to say I want you all to understand there is only one way and said through accepting Jesus gift of salvation by believing that his dying on the cross and taking our sins no other way – that it is because of Jesus. I think we think because our kids have come to church they have heard it and understand – but I think as parents we need to honestly talk with our young adults and explain the message so they can truly grasp the message of salvation. I think of the verses in Deuteronomy 6 – teach your children talk to them when you sit and walk and lie down and rise. I am paraphrasing of course but the basic principal is share these truths with them. I am just as guilty with my own children and thought “the church” will and sometimes there would be someone who would do that but looking back I missed the opportunity to really do this – so I am blessed to be able to do it with my “children” in the church family. Parents I know the days are short and so much to do but just remember one day these cherubs will be grown and will remember your words and I promise you a Gods Word does not come back void these precious lives we have been entrusted with will come to know and understand God’s grace and mercy and LOVE. Sorry for the rambling but just wanted to share this – we all need to be part of their growth and understanding of God’s gift of JESUS.
Please parents DO NOT TAKE MY COMMENTS as condemnation in any way shape or form I am also in the same category – I just wanted to share that with you- love these kids and know you do too.
I also wanted to comment I am guilty on many levels of this comparison mind set. I think we as women tend to do it even more. I also know it has a lot to do with my “not enough” issues that God is still teaching me over and over until I get it. But my God is patient long suffering kind loving and continues to show me this is NOT what we are to do. I am extremely thankful for a husband when I say see not invited or not good enough to be included he reminds me it’s got nothing to do with not being enough that I take things too hard that way. He knows me so well and reminds me to look to God and that the enemy uses those things to push me down if I wallow in it and neutralize my impact and my being useful. I am so thankful to my church family also as they are faithful to encourage and live the Body of Christ.
WOW! wow! I just happened to be up stairs with Jane with the children so we missed the message but I did get to listen through the marvel of technology. After hearing this verse 1 John 3:14 rang in my heart like a door bell, and spoke to me, “We Know that we have passed form death to life, because we love each other… I like the older version ‘love the brethren’ than these words of that verse rang out even louder ‘know’ ‘passed’ ‘death to life’ ‘love the brethren’ Sorry but right now I’m experiencing a bottle-neck with floods of joy that I don’t know what to say next, except this song that just rings in my inner recesses of my heart A. B. Simpson
I have learned the wondrous secret of abiding in the Lord; I have tasted life’s pure fountain, I am drinking of His word; I have found the strength and sweetness of abiding ‘neath the blood; I have lost myself in Jesus, I am sinking into God.
What a rich encouraging uplifting life-giving church edifying word of God, we are truly blessed.
O the riches of our Savior, so searchable, immense;… WoW! we are so blessed!
I too am guilty of falling into the comparison mode and every time I fall I start feeling the old insecurities and unworthiness. I know this is the trick of the enemy trying to get me to isolate myself in self-pity so that I am distracted from concentrating on my relationship with Jesus. There’s a line from an old hymn that is my go to “heart encourager;” “Love lifted me. When nothing else could help, love lifted me.” This says so much that I can’t adequately express!