You Aren’t Perfect. Jesus Is.

Well, we’re seven full days into 2019. How’s it going so far? Maybe not enough has happened for you to answer that question. Maybe too much has happened and you’re already wishing for 2020.

A friend of mine posted a meme on Facebook with the picture of a person in exercise clothing sitting on the couch eating a bag of chips and saying something like, “Well, 2019 is a bust. But hey, I totally got this in 2020.”

Funny, I guess. As it meets the truest edges of the human condition, far too true. In our sin, 2019 is already a bust. “We fancy men are individuals,” Ralph Waldo Emerson chimed, “and so are pumpkins; and every pumpkin in the field goes through every point of pumpkin history.”

Every human being in the field of humanity goes through every point of what it means to be human. We are born and we die, and in between we find ourselves incapable of anything even remotely resembling perfection. And yet, we have a perfect Savior who stepped into the field to become one of us. This is good news. We are to know that “…we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). The perfect Son of God has faced off with everything it means to be human, and He did it without failing. He didn’t make promises only to end up on the couch of failure eating chips. He succeeded in everything. He kept the Law without the slightest infraction. He loved God and neighbor perfectly. Perhaps most astoundingly, He was counted as guilty of our crimes and judged in our place, ultimately accomplishing of our salvation through His perfect death and justifying resurrection. I suppose that’s why the writer to the Hebrews kept his ink pen full, adding to the verse I just shared: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (v. 16).

You aren’t perfect. Jesus is. And that’s what counts. He’s the judge in this courtroom. By virtue of your baptism into Him, your imperfections are covered by the white robe of His perfect righteousness (Galatians 3:27; Revelation 7:9). Through faith in Him, you are found acquitted—declared innocent by the only One with the authority to set a prisoner free.

No matter what you face in the New Year, know that you have complete and total access to the throne of grace. This means you have unlimited access to the source of forgiveness, life, salvation, and victory that leads to eternal life.

Keep that promise close to you.

And by the way, the best way to keep something as close to you as possible is to wear it. See the fifth sentence of the fifth full paragraph above. Baptism sure is something, huh?

Up and Doing

So, have you made any resolutions for the New Year? I have. This year I’ll be giving extra effort to rebuilding broken relationships in my life. I want to do what I can to fix the fractures.

We’ll see how it goes. Only God knows what’ll happen in such circumstances. I just know I want to try to give it more attention, maybe be more deliberate in reaching out.

Making New Year’s resolutions gets a bad rap. It was F.M. Knowles who said, “He who breaks a resolution is a weakling. He who makes one is a fool.” I disagree. I don’t think it’s foolish. In fact, if you don’t already make resolutions, I’d encourage you to give it a try. You’d be amazed at how making resolutions helps to give focus in other parts of life. It helps to identify a destination of betterment and then to aim for it, even if only to get closer. That’s not a bad thing. From a biblical perspective, it can be considered “training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). In that sense, I suppose rather than being a fan of Knowles, I’m more of a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow kind of guy. Observing life, and in one sense, simply desiring to go about living in a way that tries to move goodness forward, Longfellow said, “Let us then be up and doing, with a heart for any fate; still achieving, still pursuing, learn to labor and to wait.”

I like that.

From the vantage point of Christianity, to be up and doing with a heart for any fate—learning to labor and to wait—certainly has resonating potential. We’re active in the world around us. We’re up and doing in ways that reveal a pursuing of faithfulness to Christ. With that, we learn to labor at certain times and we learn to wait during others. This is trust. And in the end, come what may—any fate, any and all results—we’re already comfortable with the fact that these are God’s to determine. We hold to the simple conviction that He will work for the good of those who love Him, and He will use our efforts (which are empowered by the Holy Spirit), even what we believe to be our extreme inabilities, to be a light to others to see His glory.

I like that, too.

And so I’ve made some resolutions. I told you one. I have another one, but I’ll keep that one to myself. Either way, with both I want to be up and doing to accomplish something beyond myself for others, and as I do this, my prayer is that I’ll be ready for any fate in each and every situation. I trust that God will handle the results. I just want to be faithful.

If you decide to do the same in the New Year, I pray that the Lord will bless you in your efforts. Know that I’ll be rooting for you. And know that if you don’t fully accomplish whatever it is you’re setting out to accomplish—at least not as you might interpret the word “accomplish”—by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in you for eyes set on Christ and a heart seeking faithfulness to Him, rest assured that God will use you to move His love a little further along in a world in such desperate need of receiving it. I guarantee this will happen even if you never see it.

With that, blessings to you in Christ, and have a wonderful New Year!