Lately I’ve been struggling with my schedule, how I’ve been using my time, and having a lot of difficulty sitting down to write this blog. I’ve been wrestling with my own imperfections (besides being confronted about them) and struggling with disappointment with myself, discouragement, and a huge sense of inadequacy. …and this morning I read God’s covenant promise to Abraham: “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly” (Genesis 17:1, 2).
I was taken up short by God’s command to “be blameless”.
Here I am, post cross, filled with the Holy Spirit, and there is no way I am anywhere near blameless! And this was God’s command to Abraham, a man living in the wilderness, yet surrounded by pagan cultures, called to be a father of many nations, an imperfect man, one who made some stunning mistakes!
So how could Abraham, pre-cross, be blameless?
The same way we are—by faith! “What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For is Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt” (Romans 4:1-4).
Jude concluded his epistle with these hope-inspiring, spirit-strengthening words: “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24, 25).
It is Jesus who justifies us— “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1)—yet my inclination is to either blame others or circumstances, or try to justify myself, making excuses for my weaknesses and failures. Keeping my mouth shut when challenged about an action or behavior that affects others, is not easy! I would rather attempt to justify myself, making excuses for my actions by either denying or minimizing them and their effects on others.
…which is ineffective for strengthening my relationships with family and friends, deepening my intimacy with God—or for presenting myself as “blameless”, because only Jesus can do that.
When I consider why I am inclined towards denial, the word “shame” immediately pops up—an emotion I’ve carried from times past. Words, wounds, and broken hearts are often instigators and ministers of shame; so are faulty beliefs—particularly beliefs about oneself combined with twisted religion—family members many times will heap on guilt and shame, and failed attempts to reach goals (particularly religious ones) that we set for ourselves tend to spark discouragement and a sense of hopelessness.
…and discouraged and hopeless is where I might remain if I didn’t have scripture to remind me to “…run with endurance the race that is set before [me], looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1, 2).
The Holy Spirit reminds us that Jesus was “wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities…” (Isaiah 53:5); He was sent to “heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, … [to give] the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:1, 3).
We also have the assurance that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
A couple of conversations have come up since I started writing this a few weeks ago and they served as reminders that sometimes people will not let go of the past, and they often seek to manipulate friends or family members with guilt or cruelty. This is the reason why Christians need to stay active with prayer and Bible study—because we need to keep our relationship with Jesus fresh and intimate so that we will be able to respond without being devastated to the attacks of others and the attacks of our “adversary the devil [who] walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
The other thing is that we must not be like the ones who point fingers at others, speaking words of condemnation while promoting our own innocence. Some news items recently and the various responses of Christians condemning unsaved people, and Christians condemning other Christians caused me to wonder just what exactly are we using to season our speech? “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you out to answer each one” (Colossians 4:5, 6). We mustn’t wander away from “when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…” (Titus 3:4, 5). Jesus taught, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven…” (Luke 6:37).
I won’t be intimidated by the opinions of others, either, because of who I am in Jesus (an heir of God through Christ—Galatians 4:7; God bestowed His love on me and made me His child—1 John 3:1); therefore, I have the confidence to take a personal stand for righteousness based on the Word of God in an immoral society…without pointing a finger of condemnation at those who disagree with me.
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another, love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous, not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:8, 9).