I woke this morning with an old hymn we sang on Sunday still playing in my thoughts. As we spent some time in fellowship after the service, I was discussing the topic of grace and works with a friend and she mentioned the song we had just sang in the service and the truth of the message conveyed within the words of that old hymn.
This old hymn, The Hiding Place, tells the story of grace. The words of the song ring true for all men, but I think they may be particularly true of those of us who were raised in the church. Like the Pharisee, who in pride proclaimed his righteousness to God in Luke 18: 9-14, we often wrestle with “hands uplifted high” and “despise the mention of his grace, to proud to seek a hiding place”.
And like the hymn writer, when we do at last recognize our own sin, we often run to “Sinai’s fiery mount” and seek justice in the law, particularly if we view ourselves as being predominantly good. We try to make ourselves righteous by our own good works and our own self disciplines. Have you ever noticed that the term “self discipline” contains the word “self”. The term must be a man made term because it is really a paradox. On our own, man is truly unable to completely discipline himself. We have all sinned and we will all continue to sin and the very best that I can offer; the very best sacrifice that I can make; even if I give all to him – all that I am capable of giving – it is nothing but rags before the throne of grace.
Sometimes I think the message of grace is harder for those in the church to grasp than it is for those outside the church. Those, who like the tax collector recognize the depth of their own sin, run to grace and embrace it with open arms, but those of us who like the Pharisee feel we were all but born righteous, must first embrace grace before our eyes start to open to the depth of our own sin and the wickedness of our own self righteous hearts – self righteousness that motivates our self discipline.
Of my own accord, I can do nothing, even the things that I might do for good are motivated by a heart that is continually focused on self, only when I fall humbly before the throne of grace and confess my desperate plight, is God able to work any good through this broken vessel. I pray my heart will remain eternally thankful for grace and Jesus Christ, my hiding place!