I do not know about you, but I often go through periods in my Christian walk where I feel completely unworthy to be called a disciple of Jesus. I read the Bible as much as I can, I listen to sermons, I try to pray and meditate on God’s Word, and I even intercede in prayer for others. Yet I feel something deep down is wrong, something is missing. I begin to look at myself, I want to see fruit in my life. I think, “I am reading and studying the Bible, I am praying, I should be getting ‘better’, I should be bearing more fruit.” Days go by and instead of feeling good about myself I see all of my sinfulness. I see my selfishness, my lusts, my dissatisfaction with all that God has given me, my judgments of others, my pride, etc. Then despair and depression sets in. I begin to question myself, “what is wrong with me?” “Why am I struggling so much when I am supposed to be getting better?” Far too often I believe life is supposed to get easier as time goes by, yet it seems instead it only gets harder. I look at my life and it seems I am becoming more of a sinner than less of one!
What is my problem? I fall into the trap of looking at myself and my sin instead of Jesus. I forget that Jesus has paid for all of my sin and shame, past, preset, and future. The curse of sin and wrath of God that I deserve was placed on Jesus, it is over, and by faith God sees me as righteous. Yet because sin still lingers in my flesh so quickly these truths escape my heart! In my flesh I want to do something worthy of God’s love, grace, and salvation. The amazing thing though is that this is completely contradictory to the Gospel. Grace is a gift, it cannot be earned. God’s love is so amazing because I cannot deserve it, yet He loves me anyway. Salvation is by faith alone so that no one may boast. I see how deep the corruption of sin goes down inside me that while God has given me grace, love, and salvation, I still try to earn it somehow.
“God, forgive me for looking at myself so often instead of Jesus. Forgive me for trying to earn your love and salvation. May the truth of the Gospel go deep inside my heart. Set me free from my attempts to feel good about myself and help me simply to be happy in you and what you have done for me. Bear fruit in my life and help me to good things because of your grace and love, and not to ‘earn them.’ Empower me today through your Spirit to live for you, Amen.”