February 4 – So Short It’s Ugly

So short its ugly

Then God gave the people all these instructions: (Exodus 20:1)

Read: Exodus 19:16-21:21, Matthew 23:13-39, Psalm 28:1-9, Proverbs 7:1-5

Relate: Probably one of the most famous portions of scripture is the Ten Commandments. Granted, very few people would actually be able to list them all off if questioned. Honestly, when I just tried to rattle them all off in my head I only got ten. I’m a little bit embarrassed to say it was the Commandment against adultery I forgot so I decided I won’t even mention it. It never happened. You didn’t hear a thing.

Even for those who aren’t trying to remember them first thing in the morning before they have even finished their coffee, it is one thing to remember the list, it is a whole different matter actually living up to it. Have you ever taken this list and used it as a spiritual checklist? No? Well, buckle up because that’s what we are about to do. Frankly, I have a feeling this will be even more embarrassing than a temporary early morning memory lapse. Truth hurts.

1) “You must not have any other god before me.” At first blush I’m going OK, but I have to ask, when trouble pops up, where is my hope and reliance. More than that, on what am I spending most of my time and money. As much as my intellect says God is first and only, my hope and my worship say otherwise. I’m 0 for 1

2) “You must not bow down to them or serve any images” As fun as it would be to go off on this one the day before every single person reading will be worshipping at the altar of the flat screen to pay homage to the Super Bowl… I won’t. For one thing, I know I will not watch it. One of the joys of living in Turkey is that I am not inundated at every turn by the idolatry of American football, but I have other guilty indulgences. (Watch this) I am 0 for 2

3) “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God.” I… yah. 0 for 3

4) “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” I tend to extremes. I went a two and a half month stretch without a day off. I’ve also gone weeks on end when I’m not working even when I am at work. There is no balance. 0 for 4

5) “Honor your father and mother.” Two words: Teen years. 0 for 5

6) “You must not murder.” Finally. An easy one. I got this. Except… Jesus said if I have anger without just cause then I’m guilty of murder in my heart. Doh 0 for 6

7) “You must not commit adultery.” Again Jesus said if I have lusted I’m guilty of this one. Jesus wasn’t just perfect, he had to go and raise the bar on the rest of us. (In my sarcasm did I just break #3… again?) 0 for 7

8) “You must not steal.” 0 for 8 (No story necessary)

9) “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.” I’ve never told a lie. (cough, cough) 0 for 9

10) “You must not be jealous of your neighbors stuff.” 0 for 10. Did I pass? What’s the curve?

React: Lets be honest. I fell, and I continue to fall short. Not just a little. I’m so short its ugly. Even worse, a passing grade on this test is a perfect score all of the time every time. So even if I were to take the murder and adultery without Jesus raising the bar, and even if I were to limit idol worship to carved images in the back room to which I burn incense and bow down, it would not matter. Multiple times I am told if I have broken one, I am guilty of breaking all. God has set a standard of righteousness that I cannot possibly meet. In spite of all this, I view myself as a pretty good person. When I compare myself with others, I’m doing quite well. Most of us usually are pretty generous about our own faults and merits. Even Hitler and Stalin probably felt that they were pretty good guys. There are always ways to rationalize our faults in our own minds but let’s be honest, my actions put me a lot closer to Hitler on the righteousness scale than they do to Jesus. That is why I am glad that God gave me His righteousness when He carried my sin to the cross. My sin is so ugly, but His grace is so amazing.

Respond: 

Dear God,
I thank You for Your grace. I’m humbled. I am so undeserving, but You died. For me. There are no words that can say to show my gratitude. Please take my life instead.
Amen

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7 thoughts on “February 4 – So Short It’s Ugly

  1. My Bible reading this morning was Exodus 19-21, so loved that this was in sync….But all I thought about as I read His Word, was how Jesus simplified the 10 commandments by His life, sacrifice, death, burial and being raised from the dead to sit at the right hand of The Father: “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40

  2. God is merciful. It is more important that you have the spirit of self-improvement than perfection. As they say in 12-step: “We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.” God sees that spirit and waters it with grace, and it will grow more and more perfect. Your humility is your salvation. You are going to be with Christ on that cross.

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