In Matthew 16, the disciples were worried about food. Jesus had just fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish, and had fed another 4,000 with seven loaves and a few fish. That’s 9,000 people fed without a McDonalds or a cook. A lot of unexpected guests and they were all full, with food to spare.
Jesus heard the disciples talking about not having food and, among other things, he said, “Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand…or the seven loaves for the four thousand…?” (vs. 9-10).
How easy it is for us to forget.
That’s why Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper. He knew our proclivity to forget. He said that we were to remember to remember. The world says, “Have a drink and forget.” Jesus says, “Take, eat, drink…and remember.”
Martin Luther once said that he had to preach the Gospel to the people of his church every day because they forgot every day. He also could have said that he had to preach the Gospel to them every day because he, Martin Luther, would forget every day if he didn’t.
Do you know what I believe is the clearest indication of the fall of Adam and therefore the greatest danger to Christians? It’s not a lack of obedience or commitment. It’s not bad theology or the violation of God’s commands. That’s why Jesus died for us and that’s covered.
I believe that the sin of the fall is found primarily in our attraction to self-righteousness. Our need to be right, to appear to be good, and to correct the sin of the world is the clearest sign of our sin nature. It wasn’t the prostitutes or the winos that received Jesus’ harsh words. It was the religious people whose sole purpose was to be good and to be perceived as good.
Jesus said to them in Matthew 23, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (vs. 27-28).
We forget where he found us.
It’s so easy to forget where he found us. “Once you were not a people,” Peter wrote, “but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10). In other words, don’t forget.
I remember standing on the porch of our apartment near Boston. I could see the ocean on my left and the bay on my right. I had everything. Anna was pregnant with our first child. I was one of the youngest men in radio in Boston and I had every reason to look forward to a successful career in broadcasting. But instead of laughing, I stood on that porch and wept. I wept because I was so empty and without any meaning in my life. I wept because I was scared and I had a hole in my heart.
Jesus went to a lot of trouble to teach us truth and love…but it’s so easy to forget.
Sometimes I ask God to remind me of the way I felt then. When he does that for me, I’m not so angry with sinners. When I remember, it takes the arrogance and judgment away. Instead of issues, I see people and sometimes I cry for them. Sin isn’t sin because it is nasty. Sin is sin because it breaks your heart and, when it breaks your heart, it breaks the heart of a God who loves you. The cross isn’t a sign of God’s judgment. It is a sign of his broken heart.
We forget how much he loves us.
It is also so easy to sometimes forget how much he loves us. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1).
I don’t believe you can lose your salvation because, if you could lose it, I would have already lost it on several occasions. When my sin is overwhelming (no, not past sin…but stuff right now), I get angry and put on the armor because I don’t want people to know. But when I remember that I’m not an orphan anymore and I’m loved without exception or reservation, I find that it gentles me when I preach to others.
We forget what he wants from us.
Not only do we forget where he found us and how much he loves us…we also forget what he wants from us. “I am the chief of sinners,” Paul wrote to Timothy. And then his astounding confession in Romans 7, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but do the very thing I hate…For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (vs. 15, 19).
They think we are good. (The wise ones think we think we are good.) They think we speak because we are good and want them to be good. Maybe it is us or maybe it is them; I don’t know. But for some reason, we are perceived by the sinful, the needy and the fearful to be good people condemning their sin, ignoring their need and scoffing at their fear.
Frankly, I don’t know how to disabuse them of that spurious belief except to confess my sins to them. I know, I know. I don’t like it either. But unless we’re willing to confess our sins, they will never know the truth. And I don’t know how we can confess our sins unless we let go of the need to be right and the need to appear to be good.
Only Jesus can give us that kind of security.
Time to Draw Away
Read John 8:1-11 & Romans 7:7-8:1
Have you forgotten where he found you? How good are you at “coming clean” with yourself and them? There is great power when we honestly confess our sins to God and to others, setting
aside our self-righteousness. Then we can run to Jesus together...and find ourselves loved, accepted and forgiven.