Thursday, October 18, 2007

Grace

Grace has been on my mind this morning. I enjoyed a leisurely morning and did something that has become rare (now that I only have a few static-y channels and all) and turned on the television. The women on The View were discussing the President of France separating from his wife, noting how that would be such a big deal in American politics. They went on to discuss adultery, honesty, integrity, and the like, and they (Elizabeth seems to like to lead these conversations) proceeded to do what most of us seem to like to do. And that is—talk about “certain kinds of people” as if we’re all divided by our levels of integrity. And bottom line, they’re implying that some of us are simply better than others because of the choices we’ve made. And some days I like to do that too.

Naturally I understand this temptation since I so often succumb, building myself up by contrasting my choices with someone else’s—because let’s face it--we can always find someone who has done something worse than we have, therefore we feel a little less guilty, bad, and/or sinful because (at least) we’re doing better than someone. Of course, we can also find someone who seems to be doing much better than we are too.

And sometimes we get a reminder that takes us down a notch--like the time I wanted to condemn an ex-boyfriend for hooking up with a married woman during one of our break-ups yet I ended up doing something I never thought I would (because, I suppose, I thought I was “above” that).

My favorite pastor Tim Keller reminds us that by living this way we’re constantly putting ourselves on trial. We’re judging ourselves by others’ standards as well as our own standards, trying to rid ourselves of low self-esteem by replacing it with high self-esteem and pride. On a good day, we feel puffed up and happy, and on a bad day, perhaps we find ourselves unworthy with a deflated ego. And our identity is that tenuous--based on the day, year, or season of life and the choices we’ve most recently made. Keller says we are all just building up our resumes (through volunteering, our jobs, our looks, etc.) in search of the verdict….that we’re of consequence, that we’re important, that we’re people of worth. But thankfully we can say what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:

“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”

So as I’m sitting here and working, I hear these words from a Snow Patrol song on my computer: “I need your grace to remind me to find my own.” It took the experience of knowing God’s grace for me to even begin thinking about my own. And it’s a process for sure; the more I realize how inherently sinful I am, the more I appreciate and understand the enormousness of the Lord’s grace. And the more I understand it, the more I can remove myself from the courtroom of judgment, condemnation, and comparison and contrast. And I realize that Jesus has already taken the judgment that I deserve, that I am separate from my sin, and that court is adjourned.

p.s. I’m grateful for the Lord’s grace and the grace that others extend to me; I surely do not deserve it...which I guess is exactly what grace is--giving people what they do not deserve.

14 comments:

brandy said...

Ahh Miss Ally, I truly appreciated this post. I find that I am one of those people who likes to use the actions of others to gauge my own compass, and either end up elated or feeling very worried. I like the line "my conscience is clear but that does not make me innocent". I think... that's something more people need to hear.

B said...

I stopped watching the view when Elizabeth joined I do not share most of her views on the world, Lisa Ling I thought represented my age group more positively.

I came across a book today called "me to we" I think you would like it

Have a great week end:)

libby said...

wow. wow.
what an amazingly eloquent post. i loved this. thank you for writing this!

Ally said...

Libby: Thank you.

B: I agree about Lisa Ling. Unfortunately Elizabeth often isn't able to articulate any rational reasoning to support her opinions; I'm sure it's hard though b/c all of those women talk over each other and tend to just blurt things out.

Brandy: It's definitely nice to take our own standards/conscience out of the equation as I find my own standards to be more oppressive than others'.

Ys said...

That was really nice to read :) I love your entries, not full of woe but full of hope - it's so rare to find in the blogging world these days.

Although I don't consider myself judgemental (I think I've been judged enough by others and it's put me off such ways of thinking), I do find that a lot of people do like to put others' actions down to make themselves feel better. I guess you just have to ask yourself: am I so innocent? I doubt there's any one out there who can say they are.

Ally said...

Ys: I think you're right. We're either honest about our struggle with pride/judgment (of others and ourselves) OR we're just lying:) I know sometimes I've (unconsciously at the time) prided myself on not being judgmental/being open minded--and therefore making myself feel better by feeling superior to those "narrow minded jerks."

Appletini said...

What a beautiful post! It ia a wonderful reminder that I am certainly one that needs to work on being more graceful ;)

Scotty said...

Absolutely awesome post Ally. Thank you, definitely what I needed this morning..

ella said...

we can always find someone who has done something worse than we have, therefore we feel a little less guilty, bad, and/or sinful because (at least) we’re doing better than someone

My Bible study had a discussion on this topic this week. We often tend to justify our behavior simply by the fact everybody else is doing it. And in the process we're not only being dishonest to ourselves, but most importantly God.

ps: I put you in our group prayer request this week!

Ally said...

Ella: Thank you for the prayers. And you're right; we're trying to justify-and just about any time I'm trying to justify something, it's because I know it's wrong:)

Scotty: Glad I could be of service.

Appletini: Me too. I wish I was just overflowing with grace.

allbilly said...

I don't think I saw chocolate anywhere in that post.

Still just me said...

I learned the hard way not to judge someone else until you have walked a little in their shoes.

I learned by walking in their shoes. I was one of "them".

It took awhile to stop judging myself. This post reminded me of the perspective I found during this very hard time for me. Thank you.

Ally said...

Still Just Me: My pleasure:)

Allbilly: There's a first time for everything, right?

Jordan said...

I loved this post.. maybe I'll even print it out to remind ME not to do those things (judge)... I think we all need to be taken down a notch or two from time to time...

definitely