Even as I wrote it, this title seemed a little harsh. But as I linger in the gospels during this Lenten season, I can’t help considering what a harsh reality life without a Savior would be.
For the wages of sin is death…that’s what I deserve. Each has gone astray and turned their own way- the Lord laid on Jesus Christ the iniquity of us all.
My sin necessitated action on God’s part. He is just, and my sin was against Him. It makes me think of David in Psalm 51- against you and you alone have I sinned.
It is so easy to forget or ignore how much our sin hurts God.
How often do we think only of the consequences of our bad choices and how if affects us and forget to grieve over the pain that we have caused our Creator and Redeemer?
Our gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice increases as we meditate on and ponder all that we have done to deserve death. We are sinful and selfish, stubborn and prideful.
We hurt other people in pursuit of our own pleasure or desire to escape.
This is an age of distraction, where many times we look for anything to take us away from focusing on the now.
We are called to be watchful, to be on our guard- to actively fight against this sinful nature within us- that beckoning of so many things that vie for our attention and seek to distract us from God, or make us forget Him altogether.
Six times the Lord has brought this passage to mind over the past week. And as I have pondered it and prayed over it, the Lord has been gently calling me to let some things go- to knock down walls of distraction that keep me from focusing on God and his call for me in this life.
Mark 12:29-30 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear oh Israel; the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
How do we live it?
So that anyone who looks at our life, whether they know us or not, sees Him in us?
I want that so desperately- a life lived in submission to my Savior where it is evident that He is my first love.
We love because He first loved us.
It is so easy to forget.
I see the Israelites and how forgetful they were, and I recognize my own forgetfulness too. It is so easy to become focused on myself, my current circumstances, and forget what God has just done for me only days and weeks before.
We are a forgetful people.
That’s why we need to be in God’s Word daily, meditating on His promises- because we forget- and when we forget we lose sight of Him and that leads to sin.
He keeps our feet from slipping.
He holds us secure.
Love with our heart- all our passion and fervor concentrated upon Him because of our gratitude for His love for us. Love for His law and commandments- trusting that He knows best.
Love with our soul- the center of who we are- with our identity, the deepest parts of us- connected with him, in submission to Him.
Love with our mind- taking our thoughts captive, meditating on His promises, memorizing Scripture, focusing on things that are…
Phil. 4:8 …whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
There is conscious effort in these disciplines, and my daily choices of how I spend my time should show that I care deeply about whether God approves of those things I see with my eyes and hear with my ears.
Love God with my strength- to use my body to honor him and work for Him. To work hard and use my time and talents to serve my neighbor, loving them as I love myself.
So I ask you dear friends as I have asked myself this week- what do I love more than God?
What am I going to do about it?
We can continue to rationalize and make excuses for the sin that we let linger, or we can ask God to cleanse us from all that distracts us from serving Him completely, and once again say- “All to Jesus, I surrender, all to him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him, in his presence daily live. I surrender all, I surrender all. All to thee my precious Savior, I surrender all.”
O Lord, as I ponder Christ’s death- not only his physical pain but that He endured separation from you, His precious Father- for me- I am overwhelmed. And I see my sin that held him there. He chose to rescue me from the death I deserved and give me the glorious gift of salvation through the shedding of His blood, through His death. You planned this from the beginning. You made a way for us to be reconciled. I am so overwhelmed by your love and care.
Not only that Christ died, but that he also lived and suffered and was tempted as a human man- so that we have a Savior that can empathize with our weaknesses. We know that He was tempted in every way and yet he did not sin- and he did it all for us.
Jesus, you thought of me, as you died upon that tree on Calvary. You bled and died so that I might be free. O Lord, my King, help me to live in gratitude today. To honor you with remembrance of all you’ve done. To share and rejoice in this truth with my family and friends- and with those who have yet to encounter your glorious love and grace. Deepen my love for you. May I cry out like David in Psalm 119 and glory in your love and law- in the glorious truth that changes me- your Word. Free us from all that entangles us so that we may joyfully praise your Name. Through Jesus my Savior I pray, Amen.