Do you find that God uses just about anything to teach you something He wants you to know? That happened to me this week when I was reading an article about, of all things, Poland.
I was reading a rather alarming article in the news the other day. Poland recently passed a law saying that it is a crime to accuse that country of any involvement in the Holocaust. Many Polish people acted heroically when they helped hide or save Jews; however, three million Polish Jews were murdered in Nazi camps in their own country. The law aims to defend the “good name of Poland” but instead criminalizes honest talk about historical truths.
Obviously, we can’t just choose to revise history as we see fit. Webster defines revise as “to make a new, amended, improved or up to date version; to alter.” Just because we say something didn’t happen, doesn’t mean it’s true.
First, we try to modify God’s instructions to us. Most of us can agree that we shouldn’t steal or kill as the Ten Commandments say, but I think we are prone to glossing over other areas.
I know I am often guilty of whitewashing my own life. Just like people don’t want to think about negative or unfavorable portions of history, I prefer not to consider those areas where I clearly fall short of God’s standards.
For example, I am a doer. I like to think about how God wants me to act or serve. Unfortunately, I can be quite guilty of skimming over what God says about how I should think and feel. It’s embarrassing for me to admit it, but sometimes when I hear about the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control), I think, “Yea, yea, just tell me what to do.” I don’t want to think about these internal characteristics because they aren’t things I can check off on a to-do list. It would be easy if we could do that:
Get groceries ✔
Go to doctor’s appointment ✔
There are days, because of lack of margin and busyness, I neglect to show love and kindness to the people who come between me and what I want to accomplish. But Hosea 6:6 says God wants our heart along with our actions:
“I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings (NLT).”
He and I do not always have the same priorities. Am I honest with myself about that?
Second, I tend to revise my own story. Not only do I sometimes revise what the Bible says is important, I also tend to alter my own history. I sometimes think my sins just aren’t that bad. But how do you rate being bitter at your husband for being home late or a friend for missing your birthday? Do you rank gossiping about your neighbor better or worse than, say, shoplifting? Does rudeness to the unknown shopkeeper count if nobody else sees it? Jesus sets me straight in John 13:34-35. He says:
“…As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Love is our greatest command. I tend to overlook the flaws in my own behavior because I don’t do those “outward sins” as often as I used to.
It seems that the closer I grow to Jesus, the worse I become! But really it’s just that He illuminates the sin in my life. To an observer, it might look like I’m doing pretty well living a “righteous” life. I go to church most Sundays. I serve in women’s ministry and Clubhouse. I don’t cheat on my husband, swear (much) or use the Lord’s name in vain. However, God is not fooled. He sees my heart. He knows what I am thinking and feeling. He knows that my actions and my heart often don’t match up.
When we stop revising our own story and look it full in the face, we see that like the apostle Paul, we are truly the “worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). But don’t lose hope! Tim Keller says, “We are far worse than we ever imagined, and far more loved than we ever dreamed.” We don’t need to revise our own story; we can face the truth of who we are, because our loving Father already knows everything about us.
And because of His love, He made a provision for our sinfulness.
Go back up and look at the definition of revise again. Notice the word alter -- to change. We need to stop modifying the rules, stop adjusting the truth of our own sinfulness. And then we need to lay it all on the altar of Jesus Christ. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice on the altar of God. He was the perfect sinless Passover lamb, who gave His life, His blood on our behalf so that we can experience the abundant forgiveness and grace of God.
Am I alone in this? Where are you most prone to revisionism? What do you need to lay on the altar?
OR are you thinking, it’s not that I think I’m too good but that I think that I’m too bad? Are you thinking that if others only knew what you had done, they would not welcome you at church? Rest assured my friend, Jesus died for you too. It’s not about you but about the work of Jesus, the perfect Lamb. Lay down your sins on the altar and experience the grace of God.
Remember your sins -- past, present and future -- have been covered by the blood of the lamb. I hope you take a few minutes to listen to the song "O Come To The Altar" by Elevation Worship and let it fill your soul. Click here: O Come to the Altar
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