Whatever you do, if you seek to hold on to the hope that you are a competent Christian, if you don’t wish to be convicted and have the wind knocked out of you, if you don’t desire to think deeply upon your response to the saving grace of God…whatever you do, don’t read the resolutions written by Jonathan Edwards. The long-deceased man hath buckled my morning ease!
A result of walking in grace is that you not only posses but also sense the hunger to become more like your Savior. Embedded in your salvation there is the seed of yearning which grows and grows more as your soul is fed. Some of the results of this transforming aspect of grace are discovered in that you are no longer able to take satisfaction in that which lies askew with the nature and will of Jesus Christ. Simply put, you inwardly long for the same things that He is set for. Sin no longer pleases you as it once did. Conviction interrupts your presumed right to be self-governing. Knowing that you now belong to another, you are convinced that your independence from God has been the greatest lie of your lifetime. You are aware that there exists a new standard by which you are measured. Without question, Christians sense within us the longing to be like Christ and with Christ.
But we don’t always execute that desire properly. We find ourselves regularly misfiring. Truth be known, we followers of Christ don’t always…well…we don’t always follow Him.
Okay, here is my confession. Not infrequently, I conclude that I am a lousy Christian. My theology concerning my security in Christ is not in question here. I’m not doubting whether or not I am an actual Christian but I am considering whether or not I am fitting Christian. What do I mean by this? Well, in a flagrant display of disobedience of Paul’s command to us to refuse comparison of ourselves to others (2 Corinthians 10:12), I occasionally observe other believers and find that I horribly lack what they seem to easily posses. Why don’t I evangelize like that lady? How did the brother over there find such a servant’s heart? Who taught those three Christians how to live with such compassion? This fellow prays for three hours a day – I can’t recall the last time I committed to that. The deadly checklist can be as lengthy as I wish to make it because there is always someone living in an excellence from which I have have departed or never tread. Am I a lousy Christian? I suppose it isn’t exactly true but I cannot deny that I sense it from time to time. I bet you do too.
So what do we do about it? How can we respond to that lingering sense of coming short of God’s intention. Here’s a few options.
- Shut it down. Tune it out. Live with nonchalance and refuse to consider the feeling at all
- Panic. Scramble like a loon and frenetically endeavor to excel beyond everyone around you in some mad attempt to prove to yourself, God and anyone else that you are a top-tier Christian soldier of the first order.
- Believe 1 Corinthians 15:10 which says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”
I’ve tried all three and eventually concluded that the third option is the right choice for God’s glory and my own good. You see, the truth is that you are not the best. Neither are any of the people you might be tempted to compare yourself with. I read the 70 resolutions by Jonathan Edwards this morning and came away feeling like I might be the long-lost twin brother of Judas Iscariot. Yet Edwards was not the finest Christian who ever lived either. We might ask, “Well, who was the best, the finest, the most faithful, the greatest fruit-bearing, Spirit-filled, anointed follower of Christ which ever walked below?”
I don’t know – ask Jesus when you get to Heaven. In the meantime, quit thinking about it and, instead, seek His face about fulfilling His plan for your own life.
Pride is a sin and that is what makes us dwell on whether or not we measure up. Unfortunately, we often fail to remember that the tendency to compare ourselves with others is not only sinful but very foolish. If you want to feel good about yourself, choose an obvious loser and applaud with gusto that you are not like she. If you are given to pity and pathetic self-flagellation, then run your life up against somebody like the Apostle Paul and you will want to crawl on your belly out of the Kingdom and into a cave. We must remind ourselves that God saves each of us and commits to shepherd each of us. He fashions us with individual capacities for individual purposes and empowers us to seek His face to understand whether or not we are walking where we should with Him. We need to believe that He created some with a larger ability than that which He wisely deposited with us. Some are more brilliant. Others are more courageous. He has made others with keener insights and longer endurance. Among us are Christians who were made to be missionary pioneers and other Christians who would step right out of God’s will if they volunteered to go to the mission field. God has made you uniquely and it is not profitable to view another as the measuring stick for your own grace-soaked life. The thing we might do well to focus upon is who exactly this awe-striking God is and what He is communicating to us as His own children. There is one thing which I am convinced of and that is the inevitable moment when I will stand before Christ and give an account for my faithfulness. Not my fruitfulness, not my flamboyance and not my fame. He has called me to be faithful. And I can do that by His grace.
You don’t have to be first among the saints. You just need to be faithful before the Savior. That will prohibit you and me from ever being lousy Christians.