Yesterday, I tossed out a quote that I made up, but I'm sure many, MANY people have said something like this at one time or another to themself, a friend, loved one, or even a stranger ...
This morning, I wanted to follow up with a couple stories, and a few scriptures ... I know that this is basics ... but sometimes, we all (read: I) need a little reminder ... no matter how long you've (I've) been a Christian!
Once upon a time, there was a woman. She was, how shall I say, of "ill repute." She was not saved, and had committed a lot of sin in her life. In fact, she was caught in the act of adultery by a group of prominent religious men, and they dragged her out into the street -- and since they didn't make an "appointment" with her, she probably didn't have much covering her, because she was taken by surprise. Oh, there's no doubt in my mind that she was guilty, not only of this sin, but probably of many others. And I'm sure, she was in a state of shock to have been so publicly humiliated like this. But imagine her fear when this prominent group of men say they want to stone her to death! Fortunately, Jesus challenged them by telling them that the one without sin should cast the first stone. Imagine their surprise! Because, surely, they all knew they had sin in their lives, and none of them were perfect, and without flaw. In fact, no one is without sin (Romans 3:23) except Christ himself. So one by one, they dropped their stones and walked away, leaving this woman alone with Jesus. He asked her to look around and see if anyone remained to condemn her to death. And, she said "no." And, Jesus, the only one without sin, said that he would not throw the first rock either, and told her to go, and "from now on, sin no more."
Oh, man how I love this story. It is one of sin, accusation, judgment, and forgiveness. FORGIVENESS. I often wonder what happened to this woman after she left Jesus. Do you think she went back to her home, locked herself in, and didn't say one single word of what happened to anyone until she became a "perfect" and model citizen? Or do you think she went out to all her friends, and shared the forgiveness she had just received? Maybe she began working with women who were in the same position she had found herself in, trying to encourage them and present the same opportunity of forgiveness to them. Honestly, if it were me, and Jesus forgave me of a sin punishable by death, I think I'd be sharing that with whoever came across my path, even if I wasn't perfect yet.
Wait a second. That IS me! Jesus has forgiven me. Again, and again, and again. And will continue to do so, molding me into the person he wants me to be until the day he comes back for me! Praise God for that, too, because where would I be right now if he wasn't a forgiving God? I can't stand around waiting until I'm "perfect" before I share the good news with everyone that Jesus has forgiven me, because let's face it. I will never be perfect. None of us will. But I know that my Savior is constantly working on me, and you, and my neighbor, and the crazy person driving down the highway like they've lost their mind!
"...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6
I may have shared this before, so if I have, just scan on a bit further. It's a perfect description of what happens to my sinful life ... One day, a potter made a pot. He sat her on a shelf in a box so she could dry and harden. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror as he walked her to the box, and was so sad, because she looked so ugly and muddy. As the potter shut the lid on the box, it suddenly started to get hot. Very hot. And it hurt! And she began to feel intense searing pain. Oh, how it hurt. She reached the point where she didn't think she could take one minute more, when the potter reached down and rescued her, setting her on a shelf to cool. Whew! That was awful. She couldn't imagine spending her life like that! A few days later, the potter returned, and took her off the shelf. She wonder to herself what her loving creator was going to do with her. He set her down gently on a table, and began to brush her off. Oh, that felt so good. And then, he began to brush something wet on her. Oh! What was that? It was acid, and it was burning! She begged him to take it off. She cried, she pleaded, but he continued to paint the acid on her. Then, he put her in that hot place again. "No! Please, take me out of here! I can't do this again!" But the potter closed the door and left her again. She burned. She hurt. And again, she reached the point where she couldn't take the pain one more minute, when the potter opened the door, reached down, and took her out. He placed her on a table, and began to rub a soft cloth on her. "Oh, that feels so good," she thought. The cloth was soft and smooth, and it was gently buffing all the pain away. The potter looked lovingly at her, and said, "You have gone through the fire and have come out refined. You are so beautiful." She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, and sure enough. She was beautiful. Gleaming. Smooth, and she had beautiful markings on her that made her unique. She was no longer the ugly muddy pot, but she was a work of art.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
So, the question is this ... are we willing to place ourselves in the Master Potter's hands? We all have been pitted, marred, cracked or broken, but in the hands of the Master Potter, changes will be made, and many of them will burn and hurt deeply, but those changes will truly make something beautiful of our lives.
"But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the LORD came to me: "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel." Jeremiah 18:4-6
Daily. That's how often I need to hear this.