A friend recently celebrated his 70th birthday and his family arranged a party for him in his honor. Several of his adult children spoke about how wonderful he was as a father. He was always loving, kind, wise, and attentive to their needs. He was the perfect father!
Now I have known this man for many years and he is all of these things, but not always. The descriptors we tend to use for people we love and admire tend to be used in an absolute manner—“always,” “the most,” “the best,” etc., particularly on special occasions and at funerals. All people are imperfect and fall short of the ideal person. The reality is none of us are truly what people remember us as being. Instead, the passage of time and the love people have for us fill the gaps where we fell far short of perfection. This is called grace.
The Lord spoke to Isaiah of this grace when he said, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”(Isaiah 43:25 NIV) It is often said that when God looks at us, those of us who are followers of Jesus, he only sees the perfection of the Lord rather than our sin. In other words, he sees us as perfect. Whether he actually forgets our sin is a theological debate I will leave for others to have, but the clear truth is, though we are far from perfect, in Jesus he views us as perfect and does not hold our sin against us.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the accolades about people by those who love them, I sometimes feel so imperfect, unworthy, and discouraged because I know I don’t measure up. Perhaps this is you as well. But what we need to understand and remember is that the accolades don’t reflect the actual lives of these people. If we were able to become the proverbial fly on the wall, we would see very quickly the lack of perfection that exists in their lives day to day. Instead, these accolades reflect the grace being shown by people who love them. No matter what people say or how absolutely they proclaim a person’s goodness, the truth is grace is at work. As Peter reminds us, love overcomes a multitude of sins. And this is exactly what the love of Christ does:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! Romans 5:8-9 (NIV)
So, the next time you feel unworthy because of what you hear people proclaiming about others, remember that grace is spoken in absolutes. If you are in Christ, then you are perfect in God’s eyes and he is proclaiming how absolutely wonderful you are!
© Jim Musser 2019