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. (EHV).
Interviewers used to ask Billy Graham what he wanted to hear from Jesus after he died. (To paraphrase) Rev Graham would respond, “I’d like to hear ‘well done good and faithful servant’ but I don’t think I will.” Graham would then go on to recount all the ways he felt he had failed the Lord. Very poignant but powerful.
And then there is the story that I read this past weekend of the man from the Netherlands who rescued Jewish children from Nazi custody. Without notice, he would occasionally walk children out of the building where Nazi occupiers were holding the children before shipping them off to death camps. He simply walked them out when the Germans weren’t looking. The interviewer asked the man if he ever thought about the children he had saved. (Again, to paraphrase) “No, not much,” he replied, “but I often think about the thousands that I didn’t.”
It’s those times you snap at your kids. It’s the time you spend looking at panty pictures on the internet. It’s the years you’ve padded your expense reports. It’s the grudge against the kid who bullied you in eighth grade. It’s that last time you had an argument with your spouse. There are thousands of ways we fail the Lord, misusing gifts He has given us. Or His name, or the fruits of His Spirit. If salvation is left up to us doing things to please the Lord, well, we’re finished. Toast; hopeless; put a fork in us because we’re done. Maybe Billy Graham was right: even when I’ve done good things, I don’t think Jesus will tell me “well done” because there are just too many other times I must have really pissed Him off.
Yep: it’s a good thing salvation isn’t left up to us. We wouldn’t measure up. It’s a good thing that God doesn’t think that way. It’s a good thing that God operates on the level Paul was praying for. It’s a good thing that God allows us to discern what is pure and blameless so that we might know conscience and repentance. More than that, it’s an even better thing that Jesus sees us as His beloved instead of filthy sinners; that He sees us as blameless because He made us blameless when He bled, died, and rose for us.
Someday I’ll ask Billy Graham what Jesus said to him. I’m betting it wasn’t what he expected.
For further reading: 1 Corinthians 1:8, 1 Thessalonians 3:12, Philippians 1:13
Lord Jesus, all praise and thanks to You for making us discerning and blameless.