Devotion for the Week...
I am not a housekeeper by nature. There are a million things I'd rather do than clean, so my house is rarely in an immaculate state. Don't get me wrong, the basics get done, but that's about it. Oh, and if your idea of basics involves washing walls, then you can be pretty sure we have different ideas about what cleaning is truly necessary!
So, when company is coming, there is a mad rush to get the house in a presentable state. When company is coming to stay the night, there is even more that needs to be done. The spare room often becomes a dumping ground for stuff that has no real home (usually sewing stuff), so when the bed is needed for people to actually sleep in...well, we have to find it first.
Are you like me? Or is your house always ready for company?
Lots of people think they have to clean up their lives before God will accept them, somewhat like me running around trying to clean my house before company comes. These people think God only accepts those who already have perfect lives, who have no problems and who never struggle with doing things they shouldn't. Thankfully, that's not true, as Jesus Himself says in Matthew's gospel.
"As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9: 9-13).
Jesus isn't surprised or intimidated by the messes people make of their lives. Those messes are precisely why He came! He doesn't expect us to fix our lives before we can approach Him; He came because He knows we need Him to fix our lives for us. Just as it is sick people who need to see a doctor, so it is sinners who need Jesus.
And consider these verses of Romans 5: "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly" (v. 6) and "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (v. 8). God didn't wait for humankind to 'get its act together'. He set the plan in motion Himself, when we didn't even realize we needed a plan.
The work has been done. There is nothing I can do to improve on what Jesus did. No way that I can make myself more acceptable. I simply trust in the work that Jesus has already done, and that is exactly what is needed to make me acceptable to God. It is the same for everyone else in this world. No effort on our part will ever be enough, which is why Jesus came to do it for us. When we believe that He came for us, God accepts us joyfully, no matter what mess we have made of our lives. Jesus said, "I
tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven
over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who
do not need to repent" (Luke 15:7).
We are all sinners, with messes and mistakes, but Jesus doesn't require us to clean up our lives before coming to Him. In fact, it's only after we come to Him that we have the power to clean up our lives, because the power comes from Him.