The Best Words

There are moments in life where you hear something and it truly touches you.  We often respond in these moments with, “That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”  I remember feeling this way when a college friend said, “When I’m an old lady, I hope they put me in the same nursing home as you.”  Random comment, but it meant a lot.

Another one of those moments came on a day when I was anything but agreeable or even coherent.  Stressed out, I consistently misunderstood what others were trying to tell me and spoke before thinking in some pretty ridiculous ways.  Another foolish statement had come out of my mouth when I stopped and said, “I’m sorry.  I’ve been saying a lot of stupid stuff today.”  A friend looked at me and countered almost instantly, “I’m not keeping track.”

I was struck.  God used this man who didn’t even know Him to teach me something very important.

You see—my family uses humor to get through tough situations, which we’ve had plenty of.  Telling funny stories is our antidote to getting overwhelmed or taking ourselves too seriously.  And we don’t take other people too seriously either.  But there can be a downside to this habit of remembering mistakes and turning them into funny stories—like when we actually keep track of each other’s wrongs or when we keep track of our own failures.

Satan is a master at reminding us of our mistakes.  He wants us to keep count—remembering all our stumbles—whether spiritual or relational.  He wants us to keep a record and try to constantly pay up for our wrongs.  It’s kind of like the phrase “bury the hatchet.”  Satan wants us to bury the hatchet with the handle sticking up to remind us of every time we screw up.

But that is pointless for a child of God.  It keeps our eyes focused on our failures instead of Christ’s greatness.  We can never atone for our own sin.  We can’t even undo our mistakes in judgment, much less outright sins.  But Christ knows our weakness and He is strong.  “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).

How astounding it is that God loves everyone, even people who will never love Him back.  No one—not even the “nicest” people you know—will ever be “good enough” to be God’s child.  We do not earn God’s favor.  He gives it anyways.  He wants us to love Him back and all our good works are to honor Him, not to make Him love us.  He does that on His own.

God is the only one with the right to judge us for our sins.   Jesus tells his disciples in the book of Matthew, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (7:1).   For those of us in Christ, God is the only one who has the right to judge you and He has chosen not to, because of the blood of Christ (Romans 8:1).  God is not keeping track of your sins to taunt you with them.  If you are feeling haunted by your past mistakes, give them up to God.  “For as high as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”  (Psalm 103:11-12). How beautiful that Jesus forgives us not only seven times, not even seventy times seven, but whenever we humbly confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  He forgives, and He doesn’t keep count.

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