Monday, May 14, 2007

Mothers of Grace

Yesterday during my mother's day sermon, I mentioned that in over ten years of being a pastor, I've had numerous opportunities to sit and visit with mothers. And almost inevitably, those moms will start talking about their children and say, "They're such good kids."

And I'll say to myself, "Wait a minute. I know those kids. Are we talking about the same people?"

It's easy to see the shortcomings of others. Moms whose live by the law do so regularly. They constantly complain and are critical. Their kid is never good enough and never measures up.

But that's not the way of mothers who lives are characterized by grace. Moms of grace aren't ignorant about their children's shortcomings and failings--in fact, they're fully aware of them. However, they choose to focus on what shines best in their child. And when their kid does get off track, Moms of grace don't "let it slide." Rather, they woo their kid out of the mud and back into grace.

God works with His children (1 John 3:1) in a similar way. God knows what smucks we are. He's fully aware of our sin. And yet, He chooses to say, "I have such good kids."

How does God honestly say that? In a word, Jesus. Through the crucified and risen life of Jesus, God chooses to look at us through the lens of imparted righteousness--grace. The Apostle Paul declares in Romans 3:21-24:
21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
In our daily practice, we are hardly righteous, try as we may. We sin. We fall short. We fail to fulfill all of God's righteous expectations laid out clearly in the Law--like the Ten Commandments. And yet, despite our failures--both intentional and unintentional--God chooses to view the one who trusts in Jesus as completely righteous, without blemish, and without sin. Apart from Christ, God declares us guilty. But united with Christ, God declares us righteous.

Elysse Grinnell in the Christian Standard told of a time when her near-adult kids started confessing their childhood secrets:
One said: "Mom, do you remember when the slats kept falling out of Ben's bed, and we told you we didn't know why? We were jumping on it." I said, "I know."

"Did you know I didn't eat my lima beans? When I excused myself to go to the bathroom during dinner, they were in my napkin and got flushed." "I suspected as much when I saw the bulging napkin accompanying you."

"Do you remember the peanut butter sandwich you found in the VCR slot? I put it there. It was the perfect size." And once again I said, "I figured."

Finally, one of my oldest daughters laughed and said, "I can't believe you still loved us."

I smiled to myself and thought, "It was easy, because you are my own."

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