Glorifying God devotions by Pastor Chris Chia
My wife and I went for an outing with friends. We visited the spanking new National Gallery, which is worth a visit for its architectural makeover of the former Supreme Court.
A must see at the Gallery are the “holding cells” where criminals are held before they face court.
Many visitors like us have not seen the inside of a prison cell. So, expectedly, we all took turns to take photos of one another behind bars.
It’s a novelty. It’s an abnormally – something the majority of us would not experience in our lifetime.
Yet, a simple but good dose of honest reflection should lead us to confess that, though outwardly free, we are all inwardly imprisoned by sin.
I have heard this testimony many times of former prisoners and drug addicts who have been graciously and undeniably converted by Christ.
“I thought I was free to do what I want, when I want, with who I want. But I was really enslaved to my sinful nature. Then, I got caught and was imprisoned. In prison, for the first time, I heard about how much Jesus loves me. He loves me enough to die for me. When I heard that and believed him, I was set free. I may be in prison but I am a free man.”
One of the marks of a true disciple is not to increasingly claim how much we love Jesus but to increasingly appropriate how much Christ loves us.
This is at the heart of Paul the Apostle’s great teaching in Ephesians 3:14-20. He prays that we, together with all the saints, will be able to grasp how wide and long, how high and deep is Christ’s love for us.
In short, unless we are first loved by Christ, we cannot truly love others.
When was the last time you came face to face with Jesus’ immeasurable love for proud and obstinate sinners such as us?
They say in prison circles, “you do the crime, you do the time”. There is grave danger in this. Why? The vast majority of our sins against God and one another in day to day living is not legally wrong.
The crippling pride which tears down a spouse each day. The forgetful person who forsakes a friend’s goodness in time. Bearing false testimony to make us look good by making others look bad. Envious gossip. A judgmental law-keeping person who is blind to their own faults. A child who is ungrateful for their parents’ love. A parent struggling with murderous anger.
Destructive pride, forgetful ingratitude, mindless false testimony, endless gossip, habitual self-righteousness, murderous anger – none of these are overtly illegal and punishable by law yet they are all sins against God our Father and our neighbours.
Jesus exposed these sins of our heart masterfully in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
So, when was the last time you came face to face with Jesus’ immeasurable love for you and me? Every time we have a meltdown from a moment of sin, we grasp afresh this truth: “how Jesus could ever bother, let alone love so irresistibly, a sinner such as I?”
And when that happens, a fresh dose of His immeasurable love floods our hearts.
Until and unless that happens, we will always be prisoners in our own hearts – portraying the image that we are free from sin when we are hopelessly enslaved by it.
Stop living for self-image. Live for God’s glory. There’s a world of difference.
Jesus has come to set us free from that prison. Humbly accept his immeasurable love. Amen.
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