By Joe Smith

    Do you know those word association games where someone goes through a list of words and you say the first thing that comes to mind with each of them? I’ve often wondered what the answers would be if the word “Christian” was thrown into the mix. Selfless? Loving? Jesus? How about judgmental, negative, or hypocritical? Unfortunately, these could all be correct answers depending on the day and who you talk to. As Christians we are called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) but that truth involves confessing who we are deep down; failures. Now, this doesn’t seem very motivational. It actually appears to be downright depressing. But, let’s read on before we jump to any conclusions and learn how being failures shows God’s greatness.

    I want to focus on a man named Isaiah. A long time ago the Lord appeared to him in the temple and once Isaiah got a glimpse of God’s glory he realized that he was ruined because he was a man of unclean lips and lived among people of unclean lips (Isaiah 6:5). Essentially Isaiah was recognizing his own inadequacy along with the inadequacies of his people compared to God. Then something strange happened. One of the angels who were a part of God’s entourage flew over to Isaiah with a burning coal and touched it to Isaiah’s lips and God forgave his sins (Isa.6:6-7).

    Immediately after this, God said: “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” (v.8). God wanted someone to share with the Judahites that God’s judgment was coming, but that his mercy was also on the way. Isaiah had a simple and awesome response. Through those burnt up and blistered lips he said: “Here am I. Send me” (v.8). Now did Isaiah volunteer because he wanted to rub it in Judah’s face about how his sins were forgiven? Did he want the pleasure of letting them know they were going to be obliterated? On both accounts, NO! There was so much more to the message. God’s grace was the beautiful and essential finale (55:1-13).

    Isaiah had experienced this grace not as something he earned, but as an undeserving gift. This is available to everyone and we need to share that message. If you have experienced this love and grace then don’t you want others to experience the same? People need to know about this overwhelming grace that is available to them and why they need it! So, whenever you feel led to share this message take a step back and assess your approach. Are you approaching people looking down on them because they don’t have it all “figured out” like you do? Or are you approaching them with the message of how Jesus saved and rescued a broken and undeserving person like you?

    So, getting back to the whole “we are failures” line from the first paragraph….I still stand by that statement. But maybe, I should add that when we confess our sins and believe in the power of the cross we are undeservedly declared righteous and are victorious because of Christ alone. In fact the Bible says we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). I’m not sure there is anything more motivational than that?!?!

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