My son, Anthony, was the first grandchild on both sides of the family. Needless to say being spoiled was a regular occurrence. As that special one, he learned ways to get people to do for him what he wanted. I remember when he was around 12 years old he asked my sister, Lori, for something. It kind of went like this. In the little boy voice he spoke growing up he said, “Aunt ‘Ore…” Regardless of what followed, he already had her reeled in. He just had a way with my sister that regularly resulted in benefits to him. We too can have a way with God.
Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee. (Psalms 33:22)
Trying to change or become a better Christian isn’t going to be enough to get God to work. Granted, sin can hinder our prayers from being answered, but striving to be a better christian will not be enough because even when you believe you are at your best, you are still a sinner and have sin. But when we hope in the Lord, which occurs when we look to him, it is then that he responds to us in mercy.
When we look to God and rely completely on him, he moves in mercy. Not because we reached a plateau of holiness or because we have risen above the masses of sinners, but because of his mercy he works. When we recognize our condition of falling short and being needy and look to God as our only source of help, God reaches down and works in mercy and love on our behalf.
Many years ago when I had first come to Christ, I was working in a steel mill in eastern Pennsylvania. I was working at the electric furnace and met another Christian, Butch, with whom I fellowshipped daily. One day, he asked how I was doing. I was not joyful as I had been on previous days. I had recently sinned and had lost my joy. My life was overcome with guilt and I was being pulled down by the enemy. The further my heart sank, the more I was convinced that God was mad at me and I no longer had his love. It was at that point that Butch pulled me to the side and reminded me that the Christian life was not about me, but that it was all about Christ.
Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord. (Psalms 25:7)As we talked, I began to understand that my life could never be lived to the standard of being acceptable to God and that him accepting me would always be based on his mercy and loving kindness. For me, confession was still needed, but that would never warrant acceptance. Even when I confessed, I knew that being acceptable and pleasing in his sight would be based on his mercy, loving kindness and goodness.
So many people are trapped into trying to repent, confess or surrender enough to reach a point of acceptance. What they fail to see is that because of God’s mercy and goodness, he accepts us and then gives us the ability to repent, confess and surrender.
If your Christianity focuses on you and your performance, then you have it all backwards. Take the advice from my friend, Butch who told me many years ago, “It’s all about Christ! It’s all about Christ!”