Bring It On
LEA Weekly Devotional
2008–2009 series: Red-Letter Days
August 26, 2008
Extended Reading: Romans 11:33–12:8
Bring It On
“I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him” (Romans 12:3 MSG).
Have you met Goode E. Twoshooze? Someone cloned him. Sometimes he carries a grade book. Sometimes he wears a collar. Other times he’s the straight-A SuperStudent in the first row—you know your advisor on everything you don’t know, which he considers everything. He always knows his memory work, letter perfect. In Greek. Sometimes he’s a colleague—the prototype of the cowboy wearing white hat (with a nasty disposition carefully tucked beneath the brim).
Most of us are more closely related to Borgne Twolooze. In fact, that was our name at birth. Sin never was a stranger, even as we trilled our first newborn solo. The same is true, of course (coarse?), of those we teach. Some of them don’t know themselves as we know them. It’s always harder to see your own sin compared to that of others. And parents? Well, we probably know a few who think they sired angels instead of infants. (FYI: Nobody told them about the bad angels!)
Paul knew many of Borgne’s ancestors. No six degrees of separation here; there’s one-to-one correspondence between sinners and every person we see. Paul must have known Goode’s descendants too.
The Apostle made unapologetically clear the source of all goodness. God brings it all, and so we say and pray for our students and ourselves: Bring it on! Give us more and more. Make us good for You, dear Savior, and make us good for service to others. Amen!
Yet, there’s more …
Does it matter to self-esteem that only Jesus makes believers good? Experts on the topic would no doubt frown, but experts on most topics frown a lot anyway! Some spiritually astute people have an equally difficult time with the self-esteem concept. But here’s the thing: God made us good through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The empty cross and the empty tomb graphically illustrate our Savior’s defeat of sin and death—for us!
Paul was an Apostle, not a psychologist or educator, so self-esteem issues weren’t his major focus. But the Spirit led him to know the corruptive power of self-centeredness. And believers enjoy a reputation of being good. Satan likes to distort this reputation and self-concept, so he assists them in believing they can indeed be good—good enough to earn God’s love and their salvation.
Ask a room full of believers how they know they’re going to heaven, and a frightening percentage will blurt out something about trying to be good or having lived a good life. This despite what you have been teaching! Perhaps a good response to those cruising along on their own goodness is to agree with them. Then familiarize them with today’s Bible reading. They are good; they need to know how they got that way.
Perhaps the following passages help too:
“Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 CEV).
“For you made us only a little lower than God, and you crowned us with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5 NLT).
“Before the creation of the world, he chose us through Christ to be holy and perfect in his presence. Because of his love he had already decided to adopt us through Jesus Christ. He freely chose to do this” (Ephesians 1:4-5 GW).
Believers are good. Even the ones in your classes and among your acquaintances who often forget to credit God for the condition He created in them. Even yourself and your own personal lapses! You all can have self-esteem because if Jesus loves you, is there any reason you can’t recognize and celebrate your own goodness?
Have a GOOD day.
Written by Edward Grube, LL.D.
Director of Publications & Communications
© 2008 Lutheran Education Association
Scripture quotations identified as MSG are taken from The Message. Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
Scriptures marked as “(CEV)” are taken from the Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society. Used by permission.
Scripture quotations identified as NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
GOD’S WORD is a copyrighted work of God’s Word to the Nations. Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations. All rights reserved.
Used by permission.
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