Points to Ponder: Honest to God

Points to Ponder
Honest to God

Are you really who or what you think you are? Some people grant themselves a lot of mercy, attach God's name to it, and then go on as if changing one's character is as simple as changing a light bulb. "Well, my God is a loving god, a forgiving god" someone will say; as if that makes their past behaviors and the unfolding consequences go away. Certainly God forgives, lives are healed, one's past can be purged. But there is something missing in these declarations: God really wasn't involved at all. How so? So many times, as I have heard it, the person has not even consulted God on the matter. The Heavenly Mr. Nice Guy "isn't going to judge me"..."I'm a good person."
Did God say that - any of it? No. It is usually a presumptive statement made by someone who thinks of himself more highly than he ought (c.f. Romans 12:16). Do you ever do that? God's word - the scriptures - clearly condemns what you have been doing or have done, and you go on as if God's grace is a line of credit you can pull out like a credit card.
The key ingredient that is missing in these presumptive, arrogant claims we make about God's forgiveness and grace is honesty. "I am a good person," is saying what in reference to God's standard of good and right? Is it saying that the Bible offers helpful suggestions, but your standard is the one that counts? It is the one you're counting on, isn't it?
The Bible says, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Except me? The Bible says, "There is none righteous, no not one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks after God" (Romans 3:10-11). Well, it can't be "none," because "I try to be a good person." The Bible says, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (6:23).
How many presume that they can rack up overtime in those wages and in the end the gift of eternal life is an entitlement? "My God is kind and forgiving." He's a nice guy. Many have made a god in their own image rather than remembering that Almighty God made men and women in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). He, not we; His goodness, not ours, is the standard.
No one preached on hell more than Jesus. Study Matthew's gospel. Often Jesus isn't warning the multitudes or the Pharisees as much as He warns His own disciples. Why? Because in the church then and now are false converts and self-deceived professing Christians. There are many who are presuming on the grace of God without ever actually approaching Him. Can you be saved if you never confessed you were in a condition from which you needed to be saved?
When Jacob tricked his blind father Isaac into giving him the blessing reserved for the oldest son (Esau), he covered himself in animal skin and told Isaac, "I am Esau" (Genesis 27). He lied about who he was and received words of blessing. But did he really receive the true
blessing? Could he? James 1:17 tells us that "every good and perfect gift" (and blessing) comes from God. Jacob deceived his father and himself, using a stolen I.D.
Years later as he awaited a potentially violent encounter with Esau (Genesis 32), he wrestled with an angel of God (v. 22-32). Jacob would not let him go "unless You bless me!" he said. Jacob's wrestling brought him to the point where he had to face himself and get honest with God.
Years before, he used deceit (the very meaning of his name) to obtain an earthly blessing from his earthly father. Now he is again struggling for a blessing. "I will not let You go unless You bless me!" This time, it is from his Heavenly Father. The Lord responds, "What is your name?" (v.27)
In stating his name, Jacob did so much more. He was confessing who he was, a deceiver and one deserving of the wrath his brother was surely coming to pour out upon him, the consequences of his character. The blessing he'd stolen and presumed he had was nothing.
Have you been honest with God about the person you really are? Or have you been using a stolen I.D.?
Where has your thought life been taking you? Do you willingly go there? What books, magazines, web sites draw you? Do you feed your mind with stuff that has no redeeming value and yet consumes hours of time? Have you noticed the effect of these things on your character? Ask others who will be honest. What are you doing - or avoid doing? What words come from your lips and what tone of voice carries them? Who are you - really?
"Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34).
Being honest with yourself about yourself opens a door to the Lord. He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (cf James 4:6, I Peter 5:5). As He changed Jacob's heart and character for the better, so He can change ours, if we are honest before Him.
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart - these, O God, You will not despise" (Psalm 51:17).
It's never too late to begin again.

Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship of Clear Spring, MD. These articles are also found at www.HilltopChristianFellowship.com. Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 10:45am and 7:45pm.