Every day I hear people say to one another, “You deserve it” or “I deserve it”.
And while I hate that word, deserve, my actions and attitudes prove that I often feel the same way. I feel I deserve to be treated with respect. I deserve to get good assignments. I deserve for life to go smoothly. I deserve rest.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. Romans 7:15-20
It reminds me of something I once read. The writer said that every time they try to follow Micah 6:8, “seek justice, love mercy”; they fail at walking humbly with God, because they feel so proud of themselves for seeking justice and loving mercy.
I do not deserve to be counted righteous. I do not deserve to be white as snow. I do not deserve to have direct and constant communication with the Father. I do not deserve to be called a friend of God. I don’t often act like a friend.
His sacrifice made me all these things. His brutal death and torture on the cross made me worthy.
But instead of focusing on that – instead of being thankful, grateful and focused on Him. I start to then decide what else I deserve.
I become like the brother in the story of the prodigal son – what about me!
I become like the Pharisees – making rules and hoops for people to jump through to meet and receive the Jesus I do not deserve.
I begin to judge others as though I have the right or earned my spot. I become like James and John, asking if I can sit on Jesus’ right or left when He becomes King to rule and judge others. When in reality, what I deserve is the right or left cross beside Jesus as He died for my sins. Because I am a sinner and a thief.
I am not trying to make anyone feel bad, I cling to the words of Paul in Hebrews 12:1-2:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
We are not supposed to dwell on our past – it is forgiven. We need to accept and live in that forgiveness. But let’s not forget where we came from. This helps us to empathize with the struggles of others. Let’s stop worrying about what we deserve and focus on what God has asked us to be, the salt and light of this world. It will be hard, because it is counter to what the world tells us. It is counter to our nature.
Our prayer for ourselves and for one another is the same prayer Paul sent to the Christians at Philippi.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11
Teresa Neal is a Christ follower, wife, and mother. Her passion is to see women grow in their relationship with Jesus and understand how great His love is for them. She attends LCBC Church in Waynesboro and leads a women’s life group. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.