Friday, February 20, 2009

The Balancing Act of Grace

What do you do with your sins? You've committed them, you've confessed them, you've been forgiven - but are you still holding on to them?  

Many times we hold onto our sins as a reminder of past failures. We treat their memories as a demonstration of our willingness to show God (and our selves) that, “yes, I really do know who I am and what I did, I really do know the price you paid, and I'm going to carry some of this burden with you.”  

It's as if we convert our forgiven sins into merit badges that are some how supposed to demonstrate God's appreciation of our willingness to carry our part of His forgiveness, a heavy burden, a reminder of who we are in the light of a most Holy and Righteous God. The worse the sin and the greater the forgiveness, then the bigger and more shiny the merit bag.

But is that what God calls us to do?

For many of us, living with sin is a balancing that we play: this much sin, that much grace. We think sin and grace balance each other out, and once that's done, God is happy with us again...


Right?

So, lets explore this balancing act that we play.


Imagine that you're standing before a teeter-totter, and you've got your heavy burden of past sins that you carry with you. You know what I'm talking about: that big bag of failures you've thrown over your shoulder, that you just can't let go of. Now, with your bag of failures, sins and regrets, sit down on the teeter-totter. If you're like most people, and I must assume that you are, gravity will have it's way with you, and you and your bag will hit the dirt in short order.


So, there you are on the teeter-totter, just you and your bag sitting in the dusty earth looking up into the bright sunlight.


Now what?

Well, now you ask God to forgive you of those sins and failures that you're holding onto. Let's assume you've done that (or that you're doing it right now.)

Lo and behold, God, being who He is, hears your prayer and shows up and with a huge bag of grace and mercy and says, “Okay, let's play this game.” He climbs up on the teeter-totter and, with His bag of grace and mercy, sits down on the other side.

But there's a problem: God sat down on the teeter-totter with His bag of Grace and Mercy, but He is up in the air and you're still stuck on the ground with your bag of sins!

What's the deal with that? It's simple actually. God can't have your sins until you let go of the bag.

Ah, but you've done this before, haven't you? It's evident in that you still carry the bag around. You commit a sin, you confess the sin, and then you put the sin into the bag. At a later time you take the sin out of the bag, confess the sin again, and put the sin back in the bag. The problem is not in your confession, the problem is your focus.

So get up off the teeter-totter, but leave your bag of sin behind in your place, on the teeter-totter. Once you've done that, you notice that God gets off the teeter-totter too, but leaves his bag of grace and mercy behind. As you watch, you see the teeter-totter creak and groan and bend under the weight of God's grace and mercy. So what's going on now?


Seriously, you've really got to let go of your bag sins, regrets and failures. Just because you're not sitting with them doesn't mean you've emotionally let them go. So let go, and let God have them! Stop wasting your time worrying about the past, trust God to leave the past where it belongs and look to the future. Right now, bow your head ask God to forgive you for holding onto that which you have already been released.


As you lift your head too look, you see God's grace and mercy crashing down to the earth and your bag of regrets and sins ejected into the air! It travels further and further away, as far as the east is from the west, until it's a tiny dot, and then, until you can't see it any more.

Once your bag has disappeared, you turn to face the Lord, only to find that He's gone. However, He has left His bag of grace and mercy behind for you to use anytime you choose.


But, as you look at His bag of grace and mercy, you notice that it's no longer on the teeter-totter.


Seeing that it was apparently heavy enough to discharge your bag of sins, regrets and failures as far as the east is from the west, then this may seem to be a bit of a problem. But in actuality, it's not a problem. Look in the bag. Just untie it and open it up. What do you see? Big, fluffy pillows – you know the kind, the type you like best. Go ahead and dive right on in, grace, mercy and forgiveness is kind, gentle and warm.


So, the next time you find yourself carrying that bag of sins and regrets, come back to God's teeter-totter, and drop your bag. Then, ask God to forgive you of carrying the past into the future. Then put God's bag of grace and mercy on the other side of that teeter-totter and watch as your sins are ejected to a place that is farther than the east is from the west.

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalms 103:12, KJV)

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32, KJV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9, KJV)

"No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62, NASB)



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