Hello friends. I am on my way back to Lil Rock from Nashville after auditioning for Belmont (AHH!). this has nothing to do with this post, but can I just say, college is so scary close I can taste it.
Anyways. Since I’ve been spending a lot of time in the car over the past couple of days, I’ve used that time to listen to some YouTube sermons that my friend told me about by Carl Lentz. If you haven’t heard of this guy, look him up. He’s the pastor of a church in New York and is now one of my favorites. I have listen to a handfull of his sermons, but something in particular he talked about has been on my mind ever since I heard it.
Something I have heard my entire life is “you are saved by grace, not by works.” but there’s always the part where they say, “but guys, this doesn’t mean you can just do whatever you want to do. your actions will be the fruit of your faith and be the picture of your relationship with the Lord” and on and on. Before I go too far, yes, this is so true. But for me, this “but” has always come so close to the beginning that I didn’t even have time to really understand what the verse was saying. We are saved by grace alone. God says He removes our transgression from us as far as the east is from the west. That is an infinite amount, guys. He chooses to FORGET our sins. When God forgives us, He looks at us and sees us as holy and blameless and His. So why do we look in the mirror and see ourselves as ugly and shameful and depraved after we have already been forgiven? Why do we feel shame again and again over something that we have already been forgiven for?
I am 100% referring to myself. But guys, I feel like so many people could potentially feel the same way as I do. you have to realize, I did not even realize how much shame I felt and how unaccepting of this forgiveness I was, because it had been that way for so long. But not accepting the forgiveness of God is something that is so paralyzingly. If Satan cannot keep us from asking God for forgiveness, he will do everything he can to keep us from forgiving ourselves.
Another thing. it is so much easier to look at someone and feel love for them when you realize the extent of God’s love and the gravity of His forgiveness. Recently, I’ve been struggling with forgiveness, because I felt like if I forgave this person it would suddenly make what they did okay, and it definitely was not. But how can I, in my sin, look at someone equally sinful and refuse to forgive them? Because it is hard and debatably impossible to forgive someone fully without recognizing God’s forgiveness. The cost of forgiveness is the willingness to be hurt again. It is much easier to protect yourself and callous your heart towards someone than to forgive and forget and show them love. But harboring bitterness is so much harder than living in God’s grace. I am convinced that forgiving someone fully is made possible only by the grace of God.
So before you look at yourself again, let God remind you of how He looks at you. In the eyes of God, you are holy, blameless, and forgiven. So why on earth would you see yourself as anything but that?