Friday, January 08, 2010

Lord, Have Mercy!

So I was pulled over the other day on my way to work. No excuses, I was speeding. When the officer asked why I was going as fast as I was, I couldn't think of any other response than to say, "habit." I was on a stretch of road I figure I've driven at least 3000 times and I drive the same speed every time. In fact, I've had patrol cars pass by me at least a few dozen times without ever a second glance. The officer told me that he pulled me over because I didn't even make an effort to slow down. I was thinking, "why should I have?" But he was right, and I was clearly wrong. Thankfully the officer extended mercy to me by only giving me a warning.

How much does this reflect our own sinful nature? We may openly confess the "serious" sins- those we feel an extra measure of guilt or are shamed into thinking are worse than others. But the habitual sins are what can separate us from God. Pride, envy, anger, lust. Habits. And how often are we reminded of these sins either by being caught in the act, or doing a measure of harm we regret? Yet, the character still remains because we're spared consequence. In other words, we see the patrol car, but we don't get pulled over.

How many times did I deserve a speeding ticket? A few thousand. So I have no reason to be upset for finally getting caught and receiving one. Just like our sinful nature, God lets us get away with a lot. But eventually we will have to face the consequences. We cannot take our habitual sins for granted, just like we cannot take God's mercy and forgiveness for granted either. We need to see our sin as sin and measure it by the stripes on Jesus' back instead of by the number of times we've gotten away with it. We need to remember the humility of the tax collector, who when praying, "stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'" (Luke 18:13)

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