Thursday, May 21, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: I’m Not Worthy
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 2:10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
I must spend one more day on this verse. Something deeply troubles me about the attitude of the “average” Christian in our world today. It troubles me most because it tends to be true of me. There is an epidemic disease from which most of us suffer. I call it deservism. I know that’s not an official word, but it is an official problem.
It’s clear that an inseparable relationship between grace and praise has been established by Peter. After declaring that we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people belonging to God, he tells us that those truths, when properly understood, will produce praise in our lives. Then, so that we might fully comprehend His incredible grace, he reminds us to consider our condition prior to being chosen. We were not a people. We were without mercy. In other words, we were worthless.
Some will cry foul at this point. How dare I state that anyone is worthless? But the truth is, without Christ, we are.
Yesterday I used an illustration of being chosen for a sports team. The illustration falls apart at this point. You see, when a sports coach or captain chooses players for his team, he does so based on a person’s abilities and performance. In contrast, when I stand in line before God, I have nothing to offer. All my past performance is as filthy rags, says the prophet Isaiah. But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. We are not chosen by God based upon our abilities or past performance. We are chosen completely as an act of His sovereign will and by His grace and mercy.
In his mercy God chose not to give us what we deserve – the punishment of our sin. By His grace, He gave us a gift we could never earn – eternal life. But we have decided we are deserving people. Our western civilization has corrupted God’s grace. We have been told that everyone has worth. Materialism has infiltrated our basic belief system so that our salvation, while we claim it is free, is really something God owed us. Our pride, manifested in the disease of deservism, has destroyed our ability to praise.
Here’s a simple test for you to run on yourself. Think about the last gift you received. Be honest – how truly grateful were you? How long did it take you to send a thank-you note? How enthusiastic were you about the gift? Think now – was there any level of deservism that kept you from being as appreciative as you should have been?
Even the slightest sense of deservism will destroy a thankful heart. Deservism delivers a death blow to praise. We must go back and discover that we deserve nothing from God, and that it is only by His mercy that He was able to choose those who by their very nature stood opposed to Him.
I found the words to a song by Curtis Stephan. I encourage you to listen to the song. You can listen to it at http://www.spiritandsong.com/musicondemand/songs/66239. Read the words carefully. Then fall on your face before the Lord and ask for healing from the disease of deservism. When we confess that we are unworthy, we will become the people of praise that God has called us to be when He chose us.
Though I’m not worthy to see your precious face
I bow before thee pour out your holy grace
For you alone can wash my sin
And cleanse my soul so deep within.
Heal me, wash me in your mercy
Mend these broken pieces of my heart
Love me though I am not worthy
Cleanse my soul and make me whole again
Only say the word and I shall be healed.
Though I’m not worthy in your grace I long to stand
And bow before thee, stretch out your healing hand
For you alone can purify
and heal these wounds so deep inside.
Though I’m not worthy to feel your love, oh Lord
I bow before thee, my Savior be adored.
For you alone break hardened hearts
And bid old bitterness depart.