Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 14, 2012

Good Enough for God

Good Enough for God

When my children were quite young, they quickly learned the kind of behaviors their Dad and I  expected from them when we visited in other people’s homes. As can be expected, however, although they knew how they should behave, sometimes they chose to act out or do things they shouldn’t do. When confronted with such behaviors, their inevitable response was something like: “I’m sorry. I just forgot.” Thus we came up with a solution for forgetting. It was called “Mama’s evil eyes.” If I gave one of the kids my evil eye look, they knew they had better stop doing whatever or there would be trouble – no excuses accepted.

I can remember glaring with my “evil eyes” on more than one occasion and for the most part it worked pretty good.  I still smile, however, as I also remember the kids piling into the car after such an occasion and searching my face as one or more asked: “Was I good?” or “I was good, wasn’t I?” I particularly liked the last question. It was as if the child wanted to convince me that he or she was really good, but then needed me to confirm that it was actually true.

I thought about this recently when I read the following Scripture that Paul wrote to the Ephesians:

“But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

(Ephesians 4:20-24)

When we become Christians we are taught to “put off” our former conduct and “put on” the new man. Just as my kids were expected to stop their bad behavior when they saw my “evil eyes,” Christians are expected to trade in their old sinful habits and lifestyles for a life that looks more like Christ. But how? When we’re used to all our old ways of thinking and living, how do we immediately begin to live like Christ? How do we replace jealousy and envy with contentment and peace? How do we trade in complaining and bitterness for mercy and forgiveness? How can we overcome impatience and striving with kindness and long-suffering? How do we get over thinking about ourselves and think instead of others? In other words, how do we “put off” the old and “put on” the new?

Most of us really want to be done with our old habits and ways, but we have trouble completely letting go. We have become too comfortable with all of our old thoughts and attitudes. We know we shouldn’t, but …. We know we ought too, but …. Sometimes, even when we know better, we choose to hold onto some of our old ways. At the same time, however, we really want to do what is right and good, so we’ll put on a little of this and a dab of that. I’ll read my Bible everyday and take notes during the Sunday sermon. I’ll put some money in the missions offering and I might even teach a Sunday School class. And then, just like a child, we’ll hope that our good choices will outnumber our bad ones, and we’ll look at God and say: “I’m being good, aren’t I?”

 

Over time this struggle between good and bad choices can consume us. We’re constantly striving to be better, to measure up, to make sure that our good choices outweigh our bad ones. Sometimes we may just decide to throw in the towel and be done with it. It just becomes too hard!

Yet this is not the Christian life at all. In fact, if it were humanly possible for us to always make good choices and do the right things all the time, we still wouldn’t be good enough for God. What?!!! That’s right. Isaiah 64:6a reminds us: “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” The only thing that makes us good enough for God is Christ Himself. This is explained clearly in the letter Paul wrote to the Colossians:

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.”

(Colossians 1:19-22)

When we accept Christ’s work for us on the cross, we are reconciled to God and we are presented before God as holy, blameless, and above reproach – not because of anything we have done, but because of what Christ did for us.

And then we begin to put on the new man! My kids wanted to respond to my “evil eyes” because of the consequences they would receive if they didn’t. But we respond to Christ out of love and thanksgiving for what He has done for us. We want to look like Christ and bring glory to His name. We want others to see Christ in us so they can come to know Him, too. I want so much to look like the new man that Paul described in Colossians 3:12-17.

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

I know I don’t always look like Christ. I try and sometimes I still feel like looking to God and asking, “Am I being good enough?” But I also know that He who has begun a good work in me will complete it (see Philippians 1:6). If I will keep my eyes on Him, the same One who reconciled me to God and made me a new creation will continue His work in me to help me look more and more like Christ.

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you will also appear with Him in glory.”

(Colossians 3:1-4)

 

 

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