. . . But God!

Posted on January 25, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

Rankin-Devotional“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us…” Ephesians 2:4

During my student pastorate in a small rural community in North Texas I can remember being indignant over a farmer who regularly plowed his fields on Sunday mornings. He never came to church and seemed to delight in this blatant expression of his lack of respect for the Lord’s Day. But I soon realized that we should not expect non-Christians to conform to our religious convictions and way of life.

We should all be distraught over the growing acceptance of sinful practices and carnal lifestyles in our society. We would like to dictate laws that enforce morality, but that would result only in artificial compliance to how we think people ought to live. The problem is Christians not living such a radically victorious life that people would be influenced and attracted to follow Jesus Christ. But that is the topic of another devotional.

I’m dismayed when business leaders are found guilty of fraud, and when prominent community and political leaders are guilty of promiscuous lifestyles. My heart was broken by the recent news of an acquaintance in Christian ministry who succumbed to moral failure, forfeiting his calling and destroying his family. We should realize, however, that were it not for the grace of God, we could be that person.

Daily I’m reminded of my vulnerability to sin. It may not be in blatant immoral actions but  in the tendency to glance at a pornographic image or manipulate income tax information for personal gain. The inclination of selfish attitudes and actions for self-gratification and aggrandizement that hurts others and creates conflict with loved ones reminds me of my fallen nature. The Holy Spirit has to work constantly to keep me confined within a hedge of holiness, and I have that advantage only because of God’s grace.

We should not be surprised when people do horrible things. When a society that does not know God advocates self-serving, non-biblical policies, people are simply acting out of their nature which the Apostle Paul describes in Ephesians 2:1-2 as “walking according to the course of this world…of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience…indulging in the desires of the flesh.” Separated from life in God they are “dead in trespasses and sins.”

So it should not surprise us when unsaved people act like unsaved people, when people who do not know and follow God engage in sinful lifestyles and advocate it for others. But we are reminded that we were once there; that was us as well, but for the grace and mercy of God. There was no good within us that would cause us to seek God or live a holy life, but God demonstrated His kindness toward us that we might be saved.

That is not to say that we should not condemn sinful practices and continue to stand for righteousness with deep conviction. But we cannot expect people who have not experienced the grace of God to live anything other than in carnal, worldly, self-serving ways. And we should be humbled that God has made us different, not due to any merit of our own, but because of his grace.

And, as we react with indignation to sinful behavior, offensive TV shows, and a nation regressing in moral values, we should be humbled that God has chosen to save us. Rather than taking pride in our righteousness we should be reminded of our own fallen nature, but for God’s mercy, and remember the admonition of 1 Corintians 10:12–”Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

Leave a Reply

More News