Do you ever find yourself in a season where God seems to be focusing on a specific area of your life such that no matter where you turn, that specific lesson, that specific issue and truth, is staring you in the face? Whether it pops up in a conversation with a friend, or what you are reading in the Bible, or in other books you're reading, wherever you look it is like God is pointing you again and again to stop, stare, truly examine yourself, and in confessing and repentance run to Christ, and be transformed by beholding Him.
Well, that has been happening to me lately with regard to God's grace destroying any sense I have of entitlement. It all culminated (at least I thought it did) when I preached on Matthew 20:1-16
on Sunday, a parable detailing how God's grace devastates any feeling of "deserving" that I might have. That sermon leveled me. It has changed how I have been speaking with others, viewing them in my own mind, and how I have been running to Jesus in times of prayer. And I thought, "wow, thanks God for teaching me this amazing truth! Ok, now I'm good to move on." Ha. Ha. Ha. First, I honestly don't think I'll ever fully "learn" this lesson but will always be fighting to live in utter lowliness, humility, and service. I don't think there's such a thing as "too humble" or "too Christlike." Second, I have been rereading through "A Gospel Primer" by Milton Vincent (can't recommend the book highly enough to everyone!) and just so "happened" to be reading this section this morning.
"The more absorbed I am in the gospel, the more grateful I become in the midst of my circumstances, whatever they may be. Viewing like's blessings as water in a drinking cup, I know that I could discontentedly focus on the half of the cup that seems empty, or I could gratefully focus on the half that is full. Certainly, the latter approach is the better of the two, yet the gospel cultivates within me a richer gratitude than this.
The gospel reminds me first that what I actually deserve from God is a full cup churning with the torments of His wrath. This is the cup that would be mine to drink if I were given what I deserve each day. With this understanding in mind, I see that to be handed a completely empty cup from God would be cause enough for infinite gratitude. If there were merely the tiniest drop of blessing contained in that otherwise empty cup, I should be blown away by the unbelievable kindness of God toward me. That God, in fact, has given me a cup that is full of "every spiritual blessing in Christ," and this without the slightest mixture of wrath, leaves me truly dumbfounded with inexpressible joy. As for my specific earthly circumstances of plenty or want, I can see them always as infinite improvements on the hell I deserve.
When I look at any circumstance that God apportions me, I am first grateful for the wrath I am not receiving in that moment (The empty part of the cup never looked so good!). Second, I am grateful for the blessings that are given me instead of His wrath. (Life's blessings, however small, always appear exceedingly precious when viewed against the backdrop of the wrath I deserve.) This two-layered gratitude disposes my heart to give thanks in all things and it lends a certain intensity to my giving of thanks. Such a gospel-generated gratitude glorifies God, contributes to peace of mind, and keeps my foot from the path of foolishness and ruin."
Oh, don't mind me over here in the corner in a puddle of tears thanking God for His grace that will never let me go and has so richly blessed me beyond measure. May I never get over God's grace! And may I live in contented, joyful humility, serving and loving all those around me with the same love I've been given.