“Lord, please make me more aware of my sin”.
I prayed this prayer back in 2007. I was a relatively new Christian, and still learning what it meant to be a disciple. I wanted to know God deeply, but always felt like I didn’t. So I asked for advice, and somewhere along the way I was told that if I wanted to be amazed by God, and feel how loved I am, I needed to be more aware of my depravity. Understanding the depths of my depravity would help me to see just how great a cost Jesus had to pay in order to save me, and this, the thought was, would lead to me knowing his love more.
Now, almost 10 years later, I do feel that I have a better understanding of my sin. I see how prone I am to wander. I see that even the good things I do are often tainted by selfish ambition. I am constantly questioning my motives, and my actions. I know that emotions are not trustworthy, so I tend to be quite cautious about becoming emotional, especially when it comes to God. Being introspective like this helps me to get at my own heart issues, and not have an unhealthy confidence in myself.
Despite having a better understanding of my sin, I cannot say that I am blown away by the grace of God; at least, not in a way that transforms me. I do understand intellectually how sinful I am, and how amazing God’s grace is, but most days this does not impact me the way that I know it should. So much of what I know does not make it’s way into my heart. I know this because we act out of what is in our hearts, and what comes out of me is often ugly.
This past weekend we had a church retreat, and the topic of the retreat was, “The Bible: Learn it, Love it, Live it”. Our speakers reminded us that God is central, we are not. They reminded us that we must focus on God for the sake of knowing him better, and praying that he will show us his glory. The fruit will come, when we focus on the vine. I have been so focused on the fruit of the Spirit, and all the ways that I don’t exhibit it, that I have lost sight of Jesus. Instead of being enamoured with the beauty of Christ, I have become enamoured with myself and my own failings. Christ has become a means to an end, rather than the end itself.
I do still believe that part of being amazed by the grace of God is knowing how sinful I am. But it does not begin by looking at myself, but at Christ. I think I prayed the wrong prayer back in 2007. The prayer should have been “God, show me how amazing you are!” as I looked for him in his Word. Instead, I said “show me how sinful I am” and started looking inward. It was a self centred approach, so no wonder I could not see the glory of God. I was too busy looking at myself!
There is no power found in focusing on self, and understanding self better. When I focus on myself, and not God, I become bigger than God in my mind. When I am big, and God is small, I will not depend on him for change. Instead, I will turn to behaviour modification; I will attempt to be my own saviour. Essentially, I will become a legalist. I have been doing this for so long; creating new rules for myself to follow in an attempt to “better myself”. It’s so easy to do this, all the while tricking myself into thinking I am doing it for God. The more messed up I see that I am, the more rules I heap on myself, and it just gets heavier and heavier and heavier. Lately it feels like I am wobbling under the weight of it all. I am weary.
Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The law is heavy, and for some reason, even though I intellectually understand the Gospel, I keep trying to live under the law. I could write another blog trying to explain why that is. However, something that is starting to solidify for me is that I don’t always need to understand why. More than I need to be aware of my sin, I need to be aware of who He is. More than I need to focus on secondary things like the fruit of the Spirit, I need to focus on the Primary thing, God Himself, and his Gospel. I could spend the next ten years trying to figure out why I don’t turn to God, or I could simply turn to God. I don’t need to take a break from getting to know God so I can better understand myself. What a worthless way to spend my time! Knowing God for the sake of knowing God is where the focus needs to be. Everything else is secondary.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1