I finished this morning's run at one of the best paces I've ever managed. I'm not posting the pace because, A) I don't want to sound like I'm bragging, and B) It's not a pace that will win me any races. I was happy with the time but I've got friends who can run circles around me. Even though that's the case, I'm not discouraged. I don't want to burn my running shoes. I don't want to sleep in until at least 5 on running days. OK, I actually do want to do that. Point is, I don't let the accomplishments of others cause me discouragement. I don't even let my own failures get me down. I know there's another day to run and another road to run on.
What's interesting is that my mindset towards my walk with Christ is often the complete opposite of my mindset towards running. As I try to serve Jesus I fail often. I fail miserably. I fail as a dad, I fail as a husband, I fail as a pastor & I fail as a man. I lose my temper. I'm not loving. I'm selfish. I don't put my wife first. I complain about doing things I have to do. I covet. I'm not content. I worry and fret about the future. And like so many of my fellow believers I get discouraged. I look at all my failures and often I just want to give up. The thought process goes something like, "If I can't do any better than that then why bother at all? I'm a disappointment to Jesus and myself." Or maybe it's something like, "God must be so sick of hearing me confess this failure to him again. I must be such a disappointment to him."
Why is it that when I fail as a runner I'm really not that discouraged but when I fail as a believer I'm ready to throw in the towel? Why is it that I don't beat myself up over a slow time but I will wallow in guilt over sin? I don't know the answers to those questions but here's what I do know.
I know that I don't have to be good enough--Jesus was good enough for me. (2 Cor. 5:21)
I know that I don't have to meet a standard to be accepted by God--Jesus met the standard for me. (I Cor. 1:30)
I know that I don't have to pay for my sins--Jesus paid for them in my place. (I John 4:10)
In other words, I don't have to waste my time wallowing in guilt over my failures. I experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I confess my sins to God and I receive His forgiveness through the perfect life and substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross. I don't have the spend my days worrying about my sin. I'm free to run the race that is set before me with joy. I'm free to rest in the finished work of Christ as I strive to be further conformed to His image. I'm free of the burden of comparing myself with my fellow believers and can instead encourage them in their walk with Christ and be encouraged by them in mine.
Because of Jesus--His life, death, resurrection & ascension--I'm good enough. Even when I'm not. Because my goodness didn't come from me. It came from Christ. As the old hymn says, "Dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne!"
May we rest in the incredible work of Christ today, and live by his grace and for his glory.