Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

We Stand In The Need Of Grace

Isaiah 64:6

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

When my arm heals – one of the first things I need to do is clean my garage. My wife likes a clean garage. I’ve written this before so not one should be surprised. Argue as I might that a garage is not meant to be clean – she won’t buy it. We have a friend – her name is Nancy – and her garage was always perfectly ordered. My father-in-law’s garage too (that is where Carolyn got the idea of a clean garage I guess – you know – where there are outlines on the wall for EVERYTHING!).

When I clean out my garage – one thing I always come across is some dirty rags. I use old rags for cleaning up most anything and at times they are not thrown away quickly enough for sure. I found one recently that was soaking wet with oil – with dirt – with dust – etc. Whenever I pick up dirty – filthy rags – today’s passage comes to mind.

I am convinced that some of us believe that our sins are not as bad as our neighbor’s sin(s). Some might think that because they go to church – because they may give support to the ministry of the church (time, talent, money, prayers) – they are not as bad as others and not in need of grace like others. When I talk or preach or teach about sin – I always have a mirror in front of my face because I know my sin and I stand in the need of grace!

As I write – I believe some people think that their sin is somehow less than another person’s sin. Some believe we are somehow judged on a scale and as long as our sin is in the lower half (whatever that might look like) – we’ll be OK. This is so not true. As today’s passage reminds us – all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. When I read this I realize that my good deeds – my righteous acts – the things that I might think help put me in the top tier – are still far from what God wants and expects from me. We stand in the need of God’s grace.

As I thought about this – the following story from Christ came to mind. Luke 18:9-14 – To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men — robbers, evildoers, adulterers — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Lord – make us more like the Tax Collector – who knew his sins were many and that he stood in the need of God’s grace – rather than somehow thinking that our sins are less than someone else’s. Help us all to seek after God and God’s grace. Help us to offer grace to others. Help us to walk in Christ. We stand in the need of grace!

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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May 8, 2017 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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