Gracefully Truthful

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Read His Words Before Ours!

Judges 8:22-28
Luke 15:11-32
Ephesians 2:1-10

[Jesus] also said, ‘A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.” So he [the father] distributed the assets to them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered the estate in foolish living. After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing.’”
(Luke 15:11-14)

So he [the younger son] got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. [The father] ran, threw his arms around his [son’s] neck, and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’”
(Luke 15:20-21)

God’s covenant love is faithful to the end. (Deuteronomy 7:9; Hebrews 9:15

Yet our love is fickle, a fleeting and shifting shadow of a holy devotion we cannot comprehend;
like the younger son in the above parable, our love and worship warp, bending back on themselves until we have put ourselves on the thrones of our hearts. 
Until we have made gods of ourselves.
Until we look our Good Father in the eye and declare disgustedly, “I wish you were dead. I want to do what I want, when I want, however I want.”

Then there was the older brother. In Luke 15:25-32, we watch the older brother respond to his sibling’s repentance and his father’s compassion with self-righteous venom. While his self-idolatry presented differently, through sanctimonious comparisons and a scarcity mindset questioning the provision of his Good Father, his vile idolatry was no less spiritually devastating. . . perhaps its insidiousness made it more so. 

While both sons exalted Self on the throne rightfully belonging to God, which son do we see facing his sins, repenting, and dethroning himself? (Luke 15:18) Which son might still be on the throne of Self? (Luke 15:29

The world draws us to desire to worship ourselves and our desires, AND our errant self-righteousness pulls us to align with its message saying, “I deserve for life to be all about ME!”

Or perhaps, as in the story of the unlikely warrior Gideon (Judges 6:11-40), we pay lip service to God while our actions belie our words. (Judges 8:22-27) Reveling in miraculous victory over Israel’s oppressors, Gideon swore allegiance to God, proclaiming, “[T]he LORD will rule over [Israel].” (Judges 8:23) Yet in his next breath, he began the process of creating an idol for his own household, and “all Israel prostituted itself by worshiping there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his household.” (Judges 8:27)

On the heels of military success, Gideon took his eyes off the Lord and became focused on what honored himself. Have you found yourself doing what seemed right in your eyes, only to discover it was not right in God’s eyes? 

While this is often an ongoing struggle for me, I can remember one particular time God exposed the idol of MYSELF and brought me to a place of repentance where true worship of Him could begin. 

In a Bible study, one of the women began to share a little of her past. She had lived an ungodly lifestyle, and was overwhelmed by God’s rescue and redemption. Her awe and amazement grabbed my attention in a way that my own law-keeping self could not stand next to. All the rule-following that seemed so good in my eyes could never justify me before God. He wanted MY HEART, as this woman displayed so beautifully. I gave it to Him that day, filled with awe as He drew me to repentance and to worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24

You and I and Gideon and the sons in the story of Luke 15 all have one thing in common: 

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins[.]” (Ephesians 2:1

We too all previously lived [. . .] in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclination of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath[.]” (Ephesians 2:3

Beloveds, we have all fallen prey to the siren song of Self, enthroning our own desires and thoughts above God and above those whom He’s called us to serve. 

Now wait just a hot second, we might protest. Given all the heinous sins committed throughout time, is a little self-centeredness really such a big deal?

Jesus answered this question in Matthew 22:34-40, explaining the greatest and most important commandment is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” The second greatest commandment, He continued, was like the first, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)

When our love for ourselves outpaces our love for God and others,
we’ve violated the central, most important tenets of our faith.

Yikes.

Take hearts, sisters, for our stories don’t have to end here.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love he had for us, made us alive with Christ, even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” (Ephesians 2:4-5)  

The great love of our Good Father is our hope and salvation! Today, we can look to the cross of Jesus, where His mercy and grace rescued us from ourselves, from the sin and death we’ve chosen a thousand times over. Oh, what love He has for His children!

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