I am a sinner God, have mercy on me.
As a Christian that statement comes with tears. My sins are many. If you looked at my life you may not notice all of my sins because I live in an era of the church where any sins are looked upon with judgment, whether silent or spoken and because of this I have become adept to covering up the grime and mire that strangles me at times. The thing that I seek can truly only be found from God; grace. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some Christians out there that are full of God’s grace, but sadly the majority does not have it. Christians are supposed to be more like Christ, with the Holy Spirit’s help, but it’s a process and literally takes a lifetime of work and persistence. Even then, the only way a Christian truly becomes like Jesus is through the resurrection, only then will any Christian be an image of Jesus Christ.
Jesus had a hard time with the religious legalism during His day. There were two groups called the Pharisees and Sadducees. They disagreed on certain doctrines and were split into two
major groups. (sound familiar? – the church today is a divided battleground of doctrine with several more denominations than just two.) These two groups of the religious elect, on the outside, looked perfect. They tithed, prayed, and fasted, all that a good Jew was supposed to do. They went above and beyond what the law required. They made a show of their prayers, for others to envy their holiness. On the inside though, they were rotten. Their hearts were far from God. The word hypocrite to the Greeks, Jesus said that the Pharisees were hypocrites (Matthew 23:27-28), they were fake; holy on the outside and sinful on the inside. They were so legalistic that the laws that God had given through Moses was not enough, the Pharisees created more laws to follow. It was so bad that it put unnecessary burden on the Israelites. In Matthew 11:29, Jesus says “All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.” A yoke was used on cattle to enable them to pull together on a heavy load. Jesus was saying that His yoke, the burden one would carry is light by contrast to all the religious legalism. Jesus introduced a new concept; grace. Grace is something that can hardly be explained or fully understood. Christians understand the meaning, but to really have a handle of what grace means can be a life changer. Grace by definition is unmerited favor. It is something we cannot earn. To try and earn God’s favor takes away the very meaning of the word “grace.” Religious legalism screams, “Be perfect or God won’t love you!” Grace whispers, “You can’t earn God’s favor, but it has already been purchased for you through Jesus Christ. All you have to do is accept it.”
Truth be told, the yoke of sin is too much burden for anyone to carry. One sin is enough to separate us from a holy and just God. The difference between a Christian and someone who doesn’t believe in Christ is grace. The Christian admits that they cannot earn their way into God’s favor. They are helpless. The unbeliever is under the law, which condemns. The laws purpose is to reveal sin and point to Christ as the answer, but if one does not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, then they remain under that law. One cannot live by the law and expect to have a relationship with God. God has gone to great lengths to repair the relationship with each person who has ever or will ever live. He sacrificed Himself on a cross fit for a criminal. The payment made by Jesus on the cross offers the only way to God. No amount of good works or religious piety will get someone into heaven.
This is why there are tears when I softly say, “I am a sinner God, have mercy on me.” As a Christian, I see my own sin. Even the sins that no one else would know about, I am regularly reminded of this problem within my own heart. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28 that anyone who looks at someone else with lust has committed adultery. I have never physically had an adulterous relationship with anyone, but I have committed adultery in my heart. It happens more often than I care to admit. With that said, God’s grace is not something that should be deliberately taken advantage of. I strive to not have those thoughts, but there are times when it does happen, and each time I’m keenly aware I have hurt my Father in heaven. I have broken His heart by that sin. The relationship I have with God through Christ is worth more than anything. The longer I am in a relationship with God, the more I learn about Him, the more sin hurts me to commit. I am currently being taught by God about grace and to be honest, it hurts. It is a difficult lesson to learn that God has so much grace for me, but I judge others with a distinct lack of grace. The emotional pain that I have gone and continue to go through has a sweet side because I know God is doing something with my heart. He is answering a prayer I have prayed for a long time. I pray for God to help me see people as He sees them, through His eyes of grace and love. There would be nothing better than for me to be able to pour grace out upon everyone I encounter and love them with a pure self-sacrificing love.
A lyric that will always bring tears to my eyes are from Crowder, God Have Mercy (Kyrie Eleison):
Oh we will bend and break
In such a fragile state
We won’t be here long
No, we won’t be here long
At 30 years old, I know my time is running short. Even if God blesses me to live another 50 years, that is a short time to love people. There is never enough time to love everyone the way they should be loved. I am reminded of my own physical limitations and my reliance upon God to strengthen my legs from a condition I was born with called Rickets. I rely on Him to lead me and sustain me. I won’t be here long, so with God’s help I’m going to go out and spread grace and love like a kid who spreads peanut butter…all over everything.
Please note: I am not saying that Christians should not give correction for each others sins. We are called to do that. In this article, I am primarily focusing on the matters of the heart. I am also focusing on the lack of love and grace in the correction of our brothers and sisters in Christ (Galatians 6:1-2). Legalism has no place in the Church, for all have fallen short of the glory of God and those who believe are saved by grace through faith in Christ — no one can boast of their own works. Many times, brothers and sisters in Christ will judge one another with legalistic attitudes when they each have problems of their own. The Bible is clear that one should not judge his brother or sister without first looking at himself and seeing his own sins. (Matthew 7:1-5)