Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Better Than I Deserve

     We all pick up phrases that we have heard during our lifetime.  Some are very familiar like:  "God willing and the creek don't rise"; "that is a piece of cake"; "this cost me an arm and a leg" or "don't cry over spilled milk".  Most of them are just a manner of speaking or expression; however, one phrase which my husband has adopted has a lot of meaning behind it.  When greeted by someone and asked how he is doing, my husband replies "I am better than I deserve."  Now, he did not originate this phrase but picked it up from a brother in Christ who often replied in this manner.  Who began saying this I cannot tell you, but it does make people stop and think.  Some will ask why he said that which, then, gives him the opportunity to share some good news with these people about his salvation in Jesus Christ.  Based on Scripture (Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23), we all deserve eternal punishment for sinning against a holy God.  Yet, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins, we have been saved, delivered, bought with a price and redeemed both from sin and death.  This is why we are "better than we deserve".  Paul knew this as he faced some very difficult situations.
     During one of his many imprisonments for preaching the Gospel, Paul wrote to the Philippians these words:  "I want you to know brothers that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.  And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear" (Philippians 1:12-14).  Now Paul has just put a very positive outlook on something which might be considered a hard place to be.  He is not saying, "I don't deserve this" but in effect, he is saying "I am better than I deserve".  Plus he points out all the good that has come as a result of his circumstances.
     Later in the same letter, Paul gives us the key to his ability to see the how God is working all things together for our good.  In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul declares that he has learned to be content in whatever situation he finds himself.  Then, he boldly states:  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13).  Indeed, Paul is better than he deserves isn't he?  After all, he persecuted Christians and ordered them put to death.  But God in His mercy and for His glory, awakened Paul to life in Christ.  Therefore, no matter what man attempted to do to Paul he was able to see God's almighty hand behind every circumstance.
     There are times when we face life's battles, and we might feel as though we are losing at every turn.  Family conflict, business problems, financial hardships or health problems can make us only look at the negative side of things.  Ah, but the Bible tells us that we are more than conquerors in Christ because He has overcome this world.  He has fought the good fight for us, and now we can say with Paul, we are "better than we deserve".  The Apostle Paul also wrote in his letter to the Corinthians these words of encouragement:  "17For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."  We must remember to keep this perspective because the earth is not our home.  We are citizens of heaven.
     God will use the trials and setbacks of life to help us grow in His grace and to reach out to others with the Good News of salvation.  Let us keep in mind that all things do work together for good for those that love the Lord.  Selah!

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