Sometimes, Jesus is inconvenient. Lots of times, Jesus behaves differently than we want him to. Maybe we got overlooked for that promotion, or our health is failing. There is no end to the troubles in this world. Would you like to make it easier?
Good, so would I. Now, all we have to do is control God. I bet that if we do certain things, everything will go our way. We can start by going to church on Sunday. Not just this Sunday but EVERY Sunday. Then, we can give a little more. In fact, we can celebrate how much we give. Heck, they might even name the next building after me! Don’t forget about sharing. We must tell everyone we know how great Jesus is and how great he has made our lives. If we do all of those things, and maybe a few others along the way, God will take good care of us, right?
Wrong. It doesn’t work that way. That is what Jesus is trying to tell us today in Matthew 23. The Pharisees had been trying it for years. Follow the rules, spread the word, and give lots of money. Jesus wasn’t having it. “Woe to you!” he warned. None of these things return righteousness. None of these bring life. None of these make you worthy.
What, then, God? What will make us worthy? Albert Tate heard these words from the Holy Spirit when asking similar questions. They are true for us too.
Albert, when you studied all week, you still weren’t worthy. When you prayed all night, you still weren’t worthy. Your worthiness to stand and declare the truths of My gospel isn’t based on your preparation. It’s not based on your prayer life or the work that you’ve put in. Yes, it’s important that you do that work, but don’t you associate that work with your worth. Your worth was never your work. Your worth was always, always based on my work. All the work I’ve done in your life, it was always about My grace. It was about My grace on your worst day, and on your most prepared day. Either day, you’re still unworthy. But what makes you worthy is My grace alone.
His grace and our willingness to embrace it is the difference between being religious and being saved.