Monday, March 10, 2008

I, Not Eliot Spitzer, Am the Chief of Sinners

My title is a good reminder for myself. I struggle with a self-righteous desire to make light of the demise of politicians, particularly those like Gov. Spitzer with whom I rarely agree politically.

But such delight, such glee is sinful. It's based on pride and a sense of self-righteousness, and it runs counter to God's Word (Prov. 24:17-20):

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
18 lest the Lord see it and be displeased,
and turn away his anger from him.
19 Fret not yourself because of evildoers,
and be not envious of the wicked,
20 for the evil man has no future;
the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

So should I not rejoice so that God's anger will continue to abide on my enemies, real or imagined? Heaven forbid! I too was once God's enemy. I too was once subject to wrath. My lamp was subject to being snuffed out by a God righteously indignant with my sin. None of my morality or self-righteousness amounts to anything before God. My salvation, my hope, my joy is in Christ and His mercy towards me, a sinner.

The cry of my heart should be for Gov. Spitzer to repent of his sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ! There but for the grace of God go I. There but for His mercy towards me in Christ Jesus, I'd be where Eliot Spitzer is, or worse!

I know this in my head and yet I must study this afresh to make the truth richly dwell in my heart.

The Apostle Paul put, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, put it well (emphasis mine; I Timothy 1:15-16):

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

For more on that text, see my blog post from January 28 (excerpt below):

Three Major Points for Application:

  1. Remember the Gospel ["Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"]
  2. Remember your own sinfulness ["to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost"] --Apply this mindset to our lives. We are the worst sinners we know, we are most intimately aware of our hidden sins, our sinful thoughts, attitudes, lusts, etc. Being aware of our sinfulness makes all all the more aware of God's grace to us and keeps us humble in our relationships with others
  3. Remember your life is to be a display of God's patience ["Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life"] --My walk with Christ is not so much about my performance as it is about God's patience towards me, a sinner saved by His grace and being conformed to the image of Christ in spite of my sinful flesh which is at war with the Spirit.

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