“For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” Galatians 6:15
I particularly love that God had us end Galatians with this scripture about the importance of realizing that we have been made new through Christ, then follows that with what else but the creation story! It’s poetry!
There is a key truth hidden amongst all the gospels and many of the letters of the New Testament that took me years to realize. “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14 Tell me my friend, if you don’t love yourself, how then will you ever be able to love your neighbor? And how can you love yourself if you only ever see the things in yourself that you don’t love?
You know that’s what we do, especially we women! We nitpick every single little thing about our bodies and about our personalities. Very often we hate ourselves.
God took me through a season in my life where I was extremely legalistic. I paid so much attention to myself and what I was doing and what I was thinking and mentally scolding myself for every single little thing that I became completely wrapped up in my sin. It became the only thing I could think about. And because we can always see the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye better than we can see the log in our own eyes, my sin wasn’t the only sin I was focusing on!
I was one of the most judgmental, critical, condemning people I knew. And I hated myself. I hated that no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t obey the law. I couldn’t keep from being angry with others and calling them things in my head. I couldn’t keep from seeing every single little thing they were doing and thinking of how they were sinning and should be repenting and asking for forgiveness. You know, they should be just like me, constantly begging God to forgive the little sinner girl who can’t do anything but sin.
Then slowly, bit by bit, God began revealing His radical Grace to me with questions. I was introduced to this man who had experienced the same type of legalistic season in his life. His attention had been constantly trained to look for sin in order to flush it out of his life. He was desperately in love with God and was fearful of God’s wrath in his life if he didn’t constantly ask for forgiveness for every little thing he had done or thought. As he told his story I felt so connected to him, because I felt the same way! I was acting in the same manner and I didn’t like the way that it felt, but I didn’t know any other way. It’s what I had always been taught, relationship through religion.
But little did I know that relationship with God doesn’t come through religion, works of the flesh, the things that we DO. Relationship with God comes through faith in the One and Only Jesus Christ. Through being introduced to this man and his testimony I began to question my methods. Was I focusing too much on myself? Could there be any other way? A way where instead of focusing on myself and my sin I could focus on Jesus and His sacrifice and Grace and count on that to save me from the wrath of God? It took a lot to convince me, but the Holy Spirit finally won me over! I finally came to believe in the radical Grace of Jesus. It’s a kind of grace that covers all of our sins once and for all so completely that there are no sins left to confess! You know, because He took them all at the cross.
It’s kind of hard to pay off a debt when it’s already been paid. And even if you’re trying to keep making payments, an honest company will start sending your checks back to you! And that’s what God did for me. I kept asking Him for forgiveness and He kept asking me, “Why are you asking Me to do something I’ve already done? I forgave you at the cross for that, remember?” I kept thinking, “there’s no way that God could be ‘that good’, that He could forgive me that completely that I don’t even have to ask Him to forgive me when I sin.” But little by little, because the LORD is so amazingly patient with us, He kept sending me messages. A dream about His goodness, a message during church from the Holy Spirit, but the one that made all the rest of the messages sink in was the message through my daughter and her pink polka dot kitty. God finally convinced me that He really could be so good as to forgive me so completely that I don’t have to keep asking for forgiveness in order to have fellowship with Him. I just need to keep thanking Him for the cross and the empty grave. I just need to keep remembering that I HAVE been forgiven, that I HAVE been made new, and that I HAVE been given a new heart and a new spirit that will guide me into all truth.
I believed a lot of lies for a very long time. If someone told me something from the pulpit, I believed it hook, line and sinker, just because they looked like they knew what they were talking about. No longer! I’ve taken my religion and my relationship into my own hands. I don’t believe everything that everyone tells me any more. I believe what the Holy Spirit tells me through His Word the Bible. I read it for myself now instead of letting other people read it for me and tell me what it says. And I highly recommend that you do the same!
Don’t just read what I have to say and skip the daily readings in your Bible. If you’re doing that then you’re no better than what I was. You’re letting me have a relationship with God for you and living vicariously instead of having the relationship with Him for yourself. I can tell you from experience that it is certainly not the same. In a million years, for a bazillion dollars I would never, no not ever trade what I have with Jesus right now. I know HIM. I know Him through His Word the Bible. And His Spirit teaches me the Truth of His Grace. He teaches me the Truth of His love for ME. And I know that I’m not the only one that He loves like this. But often times I feel like I’m the only one who really understands it. And that makes me sad.
The result of coming to understand His Grace towards me, is that I have come to understand that if He can forgive me that completely. Then that means that He has forgiven everyone that completely. And if He has forgiven everyone else that completely, then shouldn’t I then too forgive them? No matter what they’ve done or said.
Coming to the point where I understood the blood of the lamb of Christ smeared on the doorposts of my heart has changed me so completely that there is no way I could ever be the same. Not ever. I’ve seen too much, I know too much, I could never go back to the way things were before where I was counting on my own good behavior to find favor in God’s eyes. Yeah, I can tell you that will never work. That’s WHY Jesus died; because He knew it would never work. So He made a way for us so that we could have eternal favor in God’s eyes no matter what we’re doing. We need only to trust in Jesus and His love for us.
Jesus loves YOU, no matter what you’ve done, no matter who you are, no matter what you’ve said, Jesus will always love YOU. And that my friends, is the Gospel Truth.
If you would like to read the whole story of The Pink Polka dot Kitty, click here to be redirected to my website where you can order your own copy.