For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy. Titus 3:3-5
You don’t need a fire brigade to come to your house if your house isn’t on fire; neither would you want a doctor administering an IV drip when you’re perfectly healthy. It’s pointless! Similarly, until we are truly aware of our need for forgiveness, God’s story of grace and mercy doesn’t really mean much to us. We will think it irrelevant.
From time to time, we are all guilty of looking around and recognizing that others are dreadfully in need of forgiveness while turning a blind eye to our own need. “Thankfully,” we say to ourselves (though we don’t like to admit this), “I’m not like them.” By God’s grace, though, we soon realize that we too have been unkind, have said and done things we shouldn’t have, or have failed to do what we should have. In such moments of conviction, we are aware of our need for forgiveness, and we are grateful when it’s extended by those we’ve offended.
We can’t have all the upside of forgiveness, in other words, without the downside of recognizing our sin. First, we need to see ourselves rightly: by nature as lost sheep, rebels against God, empty vessels needing to be filled. We need to accept that however long we go on in the Christian life and however much the Spirit changes us in this life, we never outgrow our need for grace because we never outrun our own sinfulness. We need to realize what we deserve for our sins before we will bow down in wonder at the realization that a perfect Savior died in our place and paid all that we owe so that we might receive God’s forgiveness.
Our great need is to continue to turn to Christ in faith and repentance. Every one of us, no matter where we are in our walk with Christ, needs to pray that God would show us the truth both about ourselves and about our Savior. Then, as we grow in our understanding of all that we deserve, we will adore that very Savior more and more each day. We will stand in awe of God’s love and all that Jesus has done for us.
Pause now, therefore. Ask God, “Show me myself,” and reflect on your own sin. Then ask Him, “Show me my Savior,” and bask in the reality and joy of His mercy. Then His kindness and mercy in saving you will consume your affections so that you joyfully join the chorus:
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;William R. Newell, “At Calvary” (1895).
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty
Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.