Several years ago, I came down with the flu. Throughout the day I could feel all the classic symptoms coming on—fever, body aches, headache, cough—but I sure didn’t want to believe it. I commanded my body, “Thou shalt not be sick!” And after work I decided to climb a mountain (a small one) to sweat that sickness right out of my system. I forced my body up the trail with a heavy backpack and even ankle weights strapped on. Sweat poured off me, my head pounded, and I finally collapsed against a boulder with my vision swimming. I could not make it to the top of that mountain, and I could not pretend that I wasn’t sick. Somehow, by God’s grace, I made it back down to the trailhead and drove home, where I staggered into bed and promptly fell asleep. I wasn’t fit to go out again for a week!
This experience reminds me of the apostle Paul in the Bible. The harder Paul tried to prove he was a good and worthy person by keeping the strict religious laws, the more obvious his failures became. His insecurity and jealousy grew, turning into judgment and even murder of others. But when he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul realized that all his pretending would never make him perfect in the eyes of God. He was “sick” with sin, just like everyone else, and he couldn’t cure himself. To be well, he needed to receive the grace of Jesus.
When we see our own shortcomings, we might be tempted to try to power through and make ourselves better. But our failures are symptoms of the underlying problem, which is disconnection from God. Jesus came to reconnect us by dying on the cross and rising from the grave. Instead of trying to make ourselves worthy of God’s love, we can rest in the truth that He already loves us, and through Jesus He made the way for us to be healed from our sin sickness. When Jesus returns and makes all things new, we won’t struggle with sin anymore. In the meantime, He has given Christians His Holy Spirit, who helps us recognize sin, turn away from it, and rely on His grace to live according to God’s good ways. And even when we fail, we can know that Jesus has already forgiven us and made us blameless in God’s sight (Colossians 1:22). • Andrew and Lydia Huntress
• Have you ever tried to pretend you were okay when you really weren’t? How might it be freeing to rest in what Jesus has done for us, instead of striving to make ourselves perfect?
“Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do…I [Jesus] have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Matthew 9:12-13 (NLT)