I don't deserve to die like this...I'm building a house. -Little Bill Daggett
DESERVE: To be entitled to or worthy of.
You ever notice how many lists there are, in the New Testament, of various sins? Has your heart ever been pricked, just a little, by any particular item in any one of these lists?
Okay, so let's say that it's just me. A group of us were sharing our testimonies recently and I was struck by the similarities in some of them. It seems that many of us had a false assurance of salvation. Some as teenagers, some younger than that.
Personally, I was scared of going to hell. So I did the required actions (prayed a prayer, said some words) and I was in: bound for eternal glory. Then I went back to living my life without another thought, except maybe the occasional twinge of conscience.
I guess, deep down, I felt like I deserved heaven. Oh, I never would have said it out loud. I think the assumption was there nonetheless.
The one thing all those testimonies had in common? A realization of undeservedness. Speaking personally again, I had to recognize myself and hate what I saw before I could begin to love Jesus. Yeah, I deserved something alright. And it wasn't eternal bliss (whatever I thought that was).
About those lists. Paul compiled several of them. I suppose he wanted to remove any doubt about who deserved what because at the end of the one in Romans 1:18-32, he makes this observation: those who practice those things know they "deserve to die." And keep right on doing them.
I know, I know; in this age of self-affirmation we keep hearing about how we deserve this, that or the other wonderful thing and we should just go for it because we really do deserve it.
So I cringe every time I hear the word "deserve" used in this manner.
There is a word that I like much better. In fact I love this word because my faith, in fact the whole Christian faith is premised on it.
Grace. God's grace. Grace that will pardon and cleanse within.
Grace that is greater than all my sin.
Praise the Lord, O my soul.