I heard a really juicy bit of gossip the other day. It was about someone many of you would know. It was not favorable. And it was really tempting to shout it from the rooftops like some ancient town crier, “Hear ye, hear ye! Do you know what SHE did???! Can you believe it??”
And, this is the terrible confession I have to have to make: There was a small part of my dark shriveled prune pit heart that was… delighted. Yes, delighted because it made me feel “better than”. Superior. Like I’m winning the spiritual points Olympics today.
Grace? Who needs grace? I’m better than someone!
And then it all came crashing down. I read something by someone godly. Much more Jesus-y than me, and getting a lot of attention for being Jesus-y. And all of a sudden I felt worse than. Worthless. Not good enough for kingdom stuff.
How often do we walk into a room and determine our worth (and even the state of our relationship with God) by how well we stack up to others around us? Do we look for those who are more clearly selfish, sinful, ungrateful, and breathe a sigh of relief that at least we’re not there? Not that? We’re better than someone.
Do I define “righteousness” as “better than”? So “unrighteous” is “worse than”?
I read recently that theologian C.H. Spurgeon once said, “It is easier to save us from our sins than from our righteousness.”
So today we come to the cross and the ashes of this special Wednesday with as much honesty as we can muster. It’s time to give up the illusion that our righteousness is anything other than filthy rags. A time to come clean about our dirt.
We are an ashy mess.
Ashes – a gritty reminder of our sinfulness that says to the world, “This is who I am and what I want to repent of.”
None of us are enough.
We’re never good enough to earn His favor.
But we’re never bad enough to be beyond the reach of God’s grace.
Somehow, in spite of it all, He’s still crazy about us, His stumbling, bumbling children.
We are, all of us, all covered in Ashes. And nothing we do or don’t do today can make God love us any more. Or less. Than He does at this moment.
Lord have mercy. On me. A sinner. A comparer. An “older brother”. A prideful striver, an image-manager.