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.