if it was up to us, we’d already be struck dead.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
I’m confident that almost every believer is familiar with this verse; it’s like our perpetual get-out-of-jail-free ticket and our permanent licence to do (pretty much) whatever we want and get away with it. Of course, if you are a mature believer, you’ll slowly realise that God’s grace should empower us not to sin some more, but to sin no more; the grace of God should empower us to do what the truth demands. I think I’ve mentioned that somewhere in one of my earlier entries.
Now, the question that I’d ask is, “Who or what is God faithful and just to?” That was what I posed to my REAL champs this afternoon, at the aftermath of their Old Testament Overview, where they learnt that the overarching theme of Exodus is the faithfulness of God by His demonstration of fulfilling what He has promised (i.e. Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt).
A knee-jerk response to the above-mentioned question would be He is faithful and just to me or He is faithful and just to my repentance. Think about it for a little bit longer. Do you really think that God’s forgiveness and cleansing was based on you or to your repenting efforts? If it was so, you’d be already be struck dead! I’m inclined to think that if God was really just to us (i.e. as a judge would demonstrate justice in a court), we’d get the death sentence ten times over simply for being unable to meet the requirements of His laws; after all, it is stated that the wages of sin is death (ref. Romans 6:23).
Thankfully for us, God is just to Jesus Christ, not us. That’s the reason why God has forgiven our sins and has cleansed us from all unrighteousness! By taking the fall for us, Christ presents us righteous before God. I’m convinced that we are absolutely too sinful and unholy to be in the presence of a holy God but we are allowed access because when God views us, He sees the atoning sacrifice of Christ and not our sin. By the sheer unchangeability of what Christ has already done for us on the cross, we can therefore approach God with confidence, knowing that we’ll be forgiven and cleansed every single time. God is faithful to what Christ did in our place.
We’ll never be able to fulfil our side of the promise, unlike Christ who has already fulfilled His and therefore, permits us to have communion with God. Now, that’s what I call a demonstration of a promise! I gave God the glory as I saw the REAL kids nod their heads away as they learn a new truth and it is my prayer that you will be liberated as you discover a new way to apply this familiar scripture into your life.
give until it hurts.
“And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44, English Standard Version)
All this while Jesus seemed to observe the action without indicating his presence. The poor widow and the rich folks didn’t seem to realise that Jesus was actually watching them; he simply took his seat opposite where the action took place and became a spectator.
Now, consider this – this woman wasn’t just a widow. It was as if losing a husband wasn’t bad enough. She was also broke. I’d like to think that the bible used this extremity to demonstrate that if someone like her can give, then surely everyone can – what excuse could we give?
It’s not about the amount but about the heart and attitude behind it.
Now, how did Jesus honour this poor widow? He commended her actions and said that it outdid the rich. I don’t know about you but I am relieved that Jesus doesn’t determine the significance of our offering by its monetary value but by its motivational source.
It’s not about how big the amount is, but about how big your heart is.
Jesus used a different yardstick of measurement and we should be glad, otherwise only the rich can move God. Hence I conclude that it’s not how much we give but how we give it. And it’s about what God can do with what we give. So let’s focus on what God can do and not what man can do.
A sacrifice is not a sacrifice unless it hurts. I’m sure that the poor widow considered the consequences of her actions and contribution before she actually gave the two copper coins. She probably knew that she would have to starve for the week. She probably knew that she would be worrying when she slept that night. Yet she gave and she gave until it hurt. And well, she got the attention of Jesus.
If we want to get the attention of Jesus, we’ll have to give an amount that hurts. And I’m not even talking about just giving our monies. I’m talking about our time, resources and talents. Our reward is the commendation of Jesus, and I pray that that itself is enough for you (as if the mere attention of Jesus isn’t enough).
obedience vs sacrifice.
If you had overheard the candid conversation I had with God prior to me coming into Full Time ministry…
Me: So, I really want to obey You and go full time, instead of sacrificing, because I know you desire obedience over sacrifice.
God: What are you sacrificing?
M: I don’t know… I guess you know, like the great amounts of money that I’ll be earning, the wonderful high positions that I’ll be holding, that beautiful house that I’ll be residing in, those fantastic annual holidays that I’ll be bringing my family on… You know… All these things… Well, but I love You and I just want to obey You instead of thinking about these things that I’m going to sacrifice.
G: Have all these things happened yet?
M: [stunned] Oh, erm, well, no… But it probably will, right?
G: But it hasn’t, right?
M: [resigned] Yeah…
G: Then they are not sacrifices. : )
M: [speechless] … -_-
All right, some bits were dramatised but essentially that really happened. I guess I’ll never know how life would be like in the ministry or in the marketplace so instead of speculating all the what-ifs, I should just focus on today and perhaps ask God for a preview of tomorrow.
I truly believe that I do not have to take the paths that others have walked on. My journey of faith is mine alone and may it be an adventure for me as well as for directly affected by my decisions.