The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"The Front Row Seat"
I have met some stinkers in my day, people who possessed genuinely bad attitudes and the corresponding fruits that confirmed my impressions. I've also read about and heard about Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and a host of other genuinely evil characters of history. In the Bible, I have read about Cain, Pharaoh, Jezebel, Omri, Judas, and many others who disrespected and disregarded both God and man.
I have met also another stinker, the worst of all. That is, the one in the mirror. In direct terms, I know my own sins and failures far more than with those of any other person. Stalin and Cain's sins are history. My sins are my story. I know the attitudes, words, and actions unworthy of my confession of the Lord Jesus Christ. I know the too many things I have not done, the sins of omission that are just as egregious as the sins of commission. I have lived with me, and when thinking clearly, the sins of no one else can rightly distract from the fact and culpability of my own. Indeed, while "Christ died for all," the one of whom I must most be amazed by such grace is this stinker (II Corinthians 5:15).
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief" (I Timothy 1:15).
Was Paul the chief of sinners? In his own heart and mind, he was, for the reasons we consider. The Holy Spirit leads us to the same conclusion reached by our brother of old. "I am chief" Paul wrote by the inspiration of the Spirit. Every believer who genuinely responds to his Lord's emphasis will echo the Apostle. If we direct primary focus on the sins of others rather than our own, we ignore a reality that should perhaps be more obvious than any other. "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke 18:11-14).
I have had a front row seat for my own sins. Such truth makes me far more aware of my need for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and far more likely to avail myself to it. This is exactly as it should be, and I can personally attest that if God could forgive and receive someone such as myself, then there must be hope for all. There is, from the guttermost to the uttermost, and I can go forth with a message of hope for all others. Yes, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, including even the one who writes these words.
Sometimes believers discuss the possibility that we may be surprised by people we see in Heaven. Last moment conversions, along with our imperfect knowledge of the hearts of others, might delight us with the unexpected presence of many redeemed by the grace of the Lord Jesus. However, while I strongly believe in the clear Biblical teaching of a present assurance of salvation in Christ - I John 5:13 - I think the truth of the matter is that if there is any surprise in that coming day about who actually treads the streets of gold, it will be that we ourselves walk thereupon. "Amazing! Amazing grace! Praise the Lord, He really did save a wretch like me!" I am chief. No one else can occupy that place in my heart and mind because, again, I have witnessed the sins of no one else from the front row seat.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
Weekly Memory Verse
The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth.