Monday, May 1, 2023
Psalm 119:124 “Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your statutes.”
We are performance-based people. At the core of our sinful flesh we believe we earn everything we receive, either good or bad. We have perfected the entitlement mentality. Yet today, based on the words of the Psalmist, my spirit cries out to the Spirit of God with cries of brokenness and repentance. I have so often demanded from God and from people what I believe I am owed because of what I have done. I have become dependent upon what I have done to validate my life. I have stood in front of and beside people with the expectation that I will be recognized for my abilities and accomplishments. I have come before the Lord Jesus Christ with sacrifices that offend Him – sacrifices of my own doing designed for my own benefit. I have said to God, “Look at what I have done, now here’s what I need you to do for me.”
I have attempted to justify my self-centered core with visible coverings of righteous obedience. But I know my heart, and it so frequently demands my own priorities even while perfecting the pose of surrender. What appears before men to be humility is in fact pride at its worst.
Brothers and sisters, we must each come before the throne of grace with nothing to offer, and ask the Lord to deal with us according to His steadfast love, not according to our works. Who of us could stand before God and be declared righteous based on what we have done? Which one of us has done so much good that the Holy One of Heaven should declare us holy? Where is there one person in the whole of human history who can ask God for anything based on their own merit?
But wait, there is One. The Righteous One of Heaven who Himself lived here as one of us. He alone was truly holy, and yet He refused to ask anything from the Father based on His own merit. He only asked based on the Father’s love. In His great prayer of John 17, after asking the Father to meet the needs of His disciples, Jesus asks only one thing for Himself – that the followers given to Him by the Father would be with Him where He is and see His glory. He offers no work as the basis for His request. He does no bargaining. His request is not self-serving, but totally God-centered. He simply appeals to the love of the Father.
“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”John 17:24
There are so many ways we have negotiated with God because we felt deserving of His attention. In the recesses of our minds we think that God owes us His help to get us out of the current predicaments we are in, when in reality the predicament may be the most complete expression of His love to us right now. We believe, even if it be minutely, that if we have served Him well enough in one area of our lives that He owes us His help in areas where we have omitted Him. In our prideful attempt to validate ourselves we have even turned to seeking the approval of like-minded people who will encourage us rather than confront us about our sin. We come before the throne of grace with what we determine to be offerings of value, when grace is only granted to those who come empty-handed.
“Oh God, my heart cries out to you in repentance that I and your people have become blinded to the reality of our own pride. We have become people who demand payment for services rendered. We are guilty of asking you to fulfill your promises to us based on our own abilities to earn them. We fall on our faces before you today and receive your forgiveness, and we invite you to deal with us according to your steadfast love and no longer according to our own good. It is grace that we seek, because we are empty. And when we receive it, we will remain empty of all of self so that only You will be seen in us.”