Thursday, February 4, 2010

Excerpt #3 - I'm Not Worthy

The next excerpt from my book in progress is very dear to my heart. I have counseled many young women who don't view themselves as "clean" enough to have a relationship with God. I have heard men say that they will get to know God once their lives are in order. I honestly feel that so much of this comes from our society and that rather than being confident in who we are in Christ, we look to the world whether it's through our physical being, the job we hold or just how other people view us. I am blessed to receive emails from other women who think I am some confident, altogether kind of mom and woman. I know that even in their kindness, I can be misled into believing that I have any value outside of the realm of Christ. He is who gives me value, it is in Him that my confidence lies and only through Him can any of my gifts or abilities be used properly. Please do not hesitate to comment, even in criticism, after reading this excerpt. I am here to learn and I know many of you have much to teach! Thanks for reading and may God bless you abundantly!

God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination."
-Saint Augustine
      If you’re waiting until you’re worthy to be close to God, then you’ll be waiting forever. Guess what? You don’t have forever. None of us will ever be worthy of a relationship with God, as long as we’re on this earth. Romans 3:10 puts it pretty succinctly “There is no one righteous, not even one.” God is holy. We are not. He is pure and completely absent of sin. In fact, God can’t sin as it is not in His character to do so. We will never be holy on this earth, but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want a relationship with us. Rather than believe that you’re not worthy, believe that you’re blessed by the love of a great Father and Creator. If you have repented of your sin, God is willing to forgive and He desires a closer relationship with you.
The world teaches many untruths. One of the most damaging myths is that a person belongs to himself. If you’re a believer, by repenting and giving your heart to the Lord, then you are not your own person. God created you, immediately claiming ownership. You also belong to God because He paid a price for you when Christ died on that cross. “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)  God determines worthiness, not man. He also decides with whom He will fellowship. I praise Him for not requiring me to be worthy. I’d never make the grade!
Understand that if you know the Lord, if you are a believer, He will never treat you as if you’re unworthy. But you must commit to the standards that He sets, not the world’s standards. Most of us have been treated and even told by others that we’re unworthy. However, when a person calls us unworthy, particularly by the world’s criteria, it is meant to be a devastating, harsh slam. When we read in Scripture that we’re unworthy, that is only in comparison to God Himself. That is a Biblical truth.
A young woman, Amy, came to the Lord after making many serious mistakes in her life. Before she knew God, Amy abused other people, indulged in alcohol and drugs, stole from others and even served time in jail. I met Amy within a month of her praying for salvation. Immediately, I was struck by the baggage that she carried from the sins she had previously committed. She had a loving spouse, but didn’t feel worthy of his love. She has beautiful children and although she fought to keep from losing them to a government foster system, I could tell that she felt unworthy to be their mother. She prayed to receive Christ, but still felt unworthy of God’s love. When it came to God, Amy had it right. She was unworthy, but not because of her specific past sins. Her unworthiness came with her birth. The sins of the father, of Adam and Eve, follow each of us and no matter how good or righteous we strive to be, we must never fool ourselves into thinking that we can somehow acquire enough value to truly be worthy of a relationship with God. When I think of Amy, I also think of Paul. He had God’s people murdered. He used his wealth and position to take the very lives of Christians. Still, God chose to save Paul and change his life forever. Was Paul worthy of the close relationship he would have with God on earth? Not by the standard of past sins. How could he be? Yet, God forgives and He forgave Paul, establishing him in a life spent serving the Lord.
John the Baptist understood his value compared to Christ quite clearly, when he noted in Luke, “But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” If you consider what John the Baptist accomplished in the name of Christ and what he sacrificed, his freedom and own head, and yet he was not worthy! His unworthiness did not prevent John from growing in his relationship with his Lord and Savior.
I have often wondered where John the Baptist’s mind went as he sat in prison prior to being killed. I also wonder if Satan attempted to lie to John about what he believed, his life’s work preparing mankind for Christ’s arrival and how his life would ultimately end. Maybe Satan knew not to waste his time on John, but does Satan know that about you? Satan loves to send us to extremes of thought in order to attempt to damage the truths of God’s Word. For some, the evil one pushes the idea that you’re not quite there with God, but you’ll get there and then you’ll be worthy of a personal relationship with Him. On the other hand, Satan might try to convince you that you’re more than worthy of a relationship with God. In fact, you’re so worthy, you probably don’t even need time with Him as badly as others. Don’t let such evil thoughts lead down the road of faulty doctrine. Both ideas are absolutely untrue.
Only God determines worthiness and He longs for fellowship with His creation. It would take nothing for Him to abandon us to our own sin. Yet, He does not. He reassures us clearly in His Word, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) Not only did God maintain a personal relationship with His creation, He sacrificed His son to save that creation. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) The question isn’t whether you’re worthy or not to have a closer relationship with God. The real question is “Do you understand what salvation means?” It means that God chose to save you from your sin so He could spend time with you in eternity. Wrap your brain around that fact…God wants to spend eternity with you. Why would He not want a closer relationship with you now?

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