“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.” ~Jonah 2:7-9 (NIV–emphasis mine)
I have never read a sentence that makes my heart sink so much.
“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”
What is this grace?
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. ~Romans 3:21-28 (NIV–emphasis mine)
It doesn’t matter how “good” we may be. We may compare ourselves to others and think, “At least I’m not as bad as the other guy.” What we fail to understand is that God does not measure us against one another. He doesn’t measure us against Hitler or Ted Bundy, or even that jerk who just cut you off in traffic. He measures us against Himself.
By that standard, none of us deserve eternal life. Not one. (Romans 3:10)
In fact, any good we find ourselves doing is also worthless, because our motivations are often tainted by sinful pride or some motivation other than giving God his due glory.
“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.” ~Isaiah 64:6 (NIV–emphasis mine)
The original Hebrew word translated here as “rags” actually refers to a used menstrual cloth. Ew.
So, even what little good we manage to do on our own, compared to the Good Things that God does are less than nothing. They are used tampons that get flushed down the toilet, or tossed in the trash. Sorry for the vivid imagery, but the Bible used it first. Seeing as how God inspired the Word – I will not shrink from using it.
What is it then?
It is this:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” ~John 3:16-18 (NIV–emphasis mine)
Grace is God’s love for us in action. Grace means that we receive something we could never have earned. Ever. It means that the perfect Lamb, God’s only Son, Jesus, paid the penalty for our sin (which separates us forever from God), and tore down the wall between us and the God who made us, and loves us dearly. It means that God accepts us just as we are, and enables us to turn away from that sin that separates us from Him. It means we get to live forever in his Presence.
Grace means that God accepts us, and adopts us as sons and daughters – co-heirs with Christ! (Romans 8:12-22)
All we need to do is repent.
Repentance means that we willfully turn our backs on our own sin, and ask God, in the name of Jesus, to cleanse us and accept us into His Kingdom. And the God who is drawing you to Himself is faithful, merciful, and gracious. He will accept you gladly!
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” ~1 John 1:9 (NIV)
Grace means you do nothing to earn it, and that you cannot do anything to earn it. Ever. It means you surrender, and God accepts you without condition.
Just thought you should know.
Don’t forfeit the grace so freely offered to you. It can, indeed, be yours! You will never deserve it. Stop trying so hard, and surrender. I have never deserved it, either, but He’s given it to me! God loves you so deeply, that he has made the path to salvation narrow and straight. Its gate is Jesus Christ. He’s done all the work.
Repent and believe! You will never live to regret it!
But…if you forfeit the grace that could be yours, you lose everything. Forever. And I am not okay with that.
Grace & Peace,