God has progressively shown me something new over the last week or so. Today the picture is complete enough that I can tell you something about it. I touched on it a little in my post titled ‘Fearfully and Wonderfully Made’.
We work so hard at becoming. We work at becoming kinder, better, more generous. We work on our character, our attitudes. We strive to become better people, to be more Christ-like. But we have it all wrong!
First off, we can’t. We can do nothing in our own strength. God let me learn this lesson the hard way. I bake really well. I really do. My sister-in-law opened a new coffee shop almost two years ago and asked me to bake for her. I agreed and got to it. Almost every cake I made flopped the first time around. I wasted so many ingredients, and so much effort and time. In frustration I came before God and inquired about it. He led me to the scripture about the vine, and specifically this verse: John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Without God, I can do nothing.
That became startlingly clear. Unless I am grafted into the vine, and allow God to move through me, I can do nothing. Mmmmm, this can be very helpful in combatting pride, and no more sense of failure either. If it’s not me doing it, I can’t fail, can I? Conversely, if it’s not me doing it, I can get no glory either!
So, we’ve established that I can’t get better by myself.
God showed me something new today. He made me, and all of us, just the way He intends to use us.
I can’t get better than He made me.
But there is a whole lot of world intermingled in and covering me all over. I don’t need to improve, I just need the world stripped off me. I am already the gem that He made, I can’t become a “better” gem. But it’s like I have been dipped in tar. I have the sin and world all over me. God strips me of that over time as I allow Him to.
Introspection isn’t going to help me at all, it just makes me more self-involved.
Besides, by being introspective, I’m only discovering what kind of gem I am under it all. And when I see I am a sapphire, I paint blue paint over the tar in order to become a better sapphire. That looks fake! Ironically, there really is a true, valuable sapphire under there.
The better way, and the only effective way, is to look to Christ. He is the tar stripper. His blood dissolves the tar. He grafts me in to the vine. When I let His love and forgiveness into me, it flows through me, the tar begins to dissolve and I begin to sparkle in patches. Slowly, and without any of my “work”, I begin to look like the gem I am. No striving, no work, just let Him love you. Let Him in, let Him flow through you to others. Let Him shine!