I’m always amazed to read the scathing blast of a Christian’s self-righteous sermon in print. A couple of Bible passages are always given as a reference to illustrate the point of the sermon. Then the inevitable guilt club is picked up and swung, right at a sinful heart, in perfect judgment.
“How dare you ask God’s forgiveness, when you are not forgiving?!” They shriek.
“How dare you ask for mercy when you are not merciful!” They ask.
The questions and accusations are hurled like darts at a pulsing target, and when they hit the heart, many things can happen. These accusations can make a person, weighed heavy by sin, to feel hopeless, as they suppose that “not even God will forgive my sin.” I have seen this happen, and I have also been that sinner, who gave up before I even tried.
What happened to the Scripture, “Judge not that you be not judged? For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Matthew 7:1-2.
Have we forgotten Jesus’ exchange with the woman caught in adultery?
“And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” John 8:11
We Christians! How we love to judge other Christians. We have so much compassion for the lost, but we seem to have very little compassion for one another. Why is that? Are we beginning to feel a bit holy? We must remember that we are not holy. We are deserving of the same wrath as those who war against Christ. The difference is that we depend on Him to bring us to the Father through His holiness. Except that the Father sees us through Christ’s mercy, His sacrifice, His perfection, then we would have no hope. I cannot say this loud enough. We have no perfection of our own!
So, now, before God and my fellow Christians, I will confess, “How dare I.”
I dare to go to God for mercy, every day, every hour, every minute, because I know that I have no mercy in my heart, except by His grace.
I dare to ask forgiveness, again, and again, and again, because I have no forgiveness in my heart, except by His grace.
I go to Him throughout my day, and into the night, as I sin again,and again, with my heart, with my mind, and with my mouth.
I ask for forgiveness, because of my unforgiveness.
Then I ask Him to grant me the grace to change my heart, so that one day, I will be able to forgive, selflessly and utterly.
I ask for mercy because of my lack of mercy.
I ask Him to forgive me, even as I brood over those who have hurt me.
I ask Him to forgive me, and to forget my sin, even as I remember…remember every hurt and every unkind word that has been hurled at me.
I ask Him, yet again, for forgiveness, for my unforgiveness.
Each time that I repeat myself, begging for God’s presence within my sinful life, He comes to me, if I let Him. He reminds me that David, beloved of God, also cried out in desperation.
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou Judgest.” Psalms 51:1-4
I, too, have cried out just like David:
"Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.”Psalms 139:21-22
I also cry out, like David:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Only God can do that, and I am certain that I can trust God to take my old sinful heart and make a new one.
I am certain that when I try to be like Jesus, I am going to fail, utterly and miserably; however I also am confident that God, who searches my heart, knows that my desire is to be like Him, and only Christ can make me so. Jesus knows that when my faith is weakened by anger and outrage, I will stubbornly cling to Him. He knows that I am painfully aware that I cannot change myself. I can only allow Him to change me.
I am a sinner. A forgiven sinner. Not because of my efforts, intent, or goodness. I am not good. I am capable of any sin…except for, and only because of His grace, am I saved. I am helpless to help myself, so I depend on Jesus.
I go to Him in every ugly moment of my life, confessing, then sinning again; but I keep going. And that is how, and that is why I can say, "I dare!"
Father in heaven, Abba, my only God. Please forgive me my unforgiveness, and help me to forgive, even as you have forgiven me. Help me to have mercy, even as you have been merciful to me. Help my faith to be founded, not upon emotionalism, but in the sure, abiding grace of Your love. You are my rock to which I cling, and You are my hiding place, and there is none other who can take your place in my heart.
© Jaye Lewis, 2005