Christmas: As Good As It Gets

Are You Working to Please Christ or is Christ’s Work Pleasing You?

photo by The Prudent Cyclist

by Jim Dent

It is an age-old debate, as old as the Bible itself. When we work hard at being good, at trying to keep the law, what are we doing it for? Are we trying to earn our salvation? Most of us realize that Christ did something for us that we can not do for ourselves. He paid the price of our sins and gave us his righteousness. Our best works are nothing more than filthy rags, but we keep working nonetheless. Why?

I spent much of my Christian life working for my sanctification. I knew that Christ’s grace through faith brought me salvation, but I thought it was up to me to work for sanctification. I worked for the wrong reasons and I worked under the wrong power. Fail! There is nothing I can do to earn it. Now I can quit trying, right?

Not so fast. In Romans the question is asked, “Do we keep on sinning that Grace may abound?” and the answer is, “Surely not!” Yet, I still do not grasp why and I often fall back into working for approval. I like visual pictures; I learn much easier when I can see a real life example. God knows this and it is one of the reasons Christ lived and walked among us for 33 years, His people needed to see a real life example of love. Sometimes I see a movie or film that gives me a poignant analogy that I can hold on to. One such example is from the movie As Good as it Gets.

Jack Nicholson plays the part of a man who is about as messed up as any of us can be. As a highly obsessive compulsive author, he blunders through life running rough shod over people. He meets a waitress played by Helen Hunt who accepts him and shows him love. His response to her love is fitting. He tells her that she makes him want to be a better man. Not because he has to try to earn her love, but because she already gave it. He clearly sees his undone state juxtaposed to her selfless love. He wants to be more like her.

My response to Christ should be like this. I see his beauty, his perfection, and his love. This creates desire for him. I set my course for holy and righteous living and I have to trust in the power of God’s Holy Spirit to stay the course. I see Christ who showed such unfathomable love to a filthy wretch and I want to be like him. I want to be a better man.

Are you looking at Christ, gazing into the face of the one who went to Calvary? How do you do that?
What is your response to his love? How has his radical love changed you?

Live Outside the Lines and Find Rest in the Finished Work if Jesus

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