I come to God on my terms and on my merits. I perceive my standing before God to be based primarily on what I have or haven’t done. I decide whether or not I am worthy to approach God. I alone judge myself, and I do not take God or His Word into account in deciding my verdict.
I am one of two men. I am either full of pride or full of shame. I am prideful if in this moment I have a good track record of being good, disciplined or loving. On the other hand, I am ashamed if in this moment I am acutely aware of my inability to steer clear of sin and selfishness.
I come to God on my terms and on my merits… How foolish I am!
Contrast my modus operandi with the experience of the Prodigal Son and his older brother found in Luke 15. Both brothers learn a valuable lesson. The younger son discovers his poverty and inability to save himself. He comes to recognize his absolute need for his father, and he comes crawling back praying for mercy.
The older son is stunned by his father’s grace and mercy to the prodigal and cannot comprehend it. Why does his father not lavish love and attention like this on him? Of all people, he deserves it! He is full of pride and grows angry at the lack of “fairness.”
The Father’s love: One brother felt sure that he would never be able to earn it again; the other brother felt sure that he deserved it more than anyone else. Neither realized it was unconditional and not contingent upon either one of them.
Regarding you and I, God our Father has not moved. All this time, He has been standing at the edge of the driveway, looking up and down the street, waiting. And when I finally turn to Him and begin walking and He sees me, He comes running to me. I did not earn His love. I did not suddenly prove my worth. He made up His mind about me long ago; He’s just been waiting for me to realize it and come home.
As the writer of Hebrews tells us,
Dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.