Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What the Law Could Not Do, Christ Did

(From the archives...a repost of something I'm incredibly passionate about. New to any of you who started reading the blog after August 25, 2006)

Last week at GEMS I had a wonderful opportunity to (I hope) pass on what I've been learning about jealousy and the gospel. We were talking about memorizing God's Word, and our leader asked the girls if they could think of a situation in which knowing the Bible could help them. One of the girls mentioned that she had been jealous because two of her friends were excluding her. She said she could look up verses that say, "Don't be jealous." Then she paused, and candidly admitted: "But I still feel jealous, though."

What a perfect illustration of how all attempts to conquer sin without applying the gospel are shallow--they do not have the power to inspire us and make us more like Christ! If I am struggling with jealousy, and so I memorize a verse that tells me "thou shalt not covet," how does that help me to overcome the jealousy? I already knew that my jealousy was wrong. Reminding myself that it is a sin doesn't change the fact that I feel hurt, left out, whatever. Even nine-year-olds recognize the impotence in these laws and commands!

That's why the Christian life can't be about a list of dos and don'ts. We're no longer under law, but under grace. And so the part of God's Word that has the power to defeat jealousy in my heart is not the part that tells me, "Don't be jealous, it's wrong." It's the part that promises that God will satisfy all my needs--that He alone can give life--that He works in all things for my good and His glory.

When I need to battle jealousy, I find "thou shalt not covet" less than compelling. But "Christ's love compels [me]" (2 Corinthians 5:14). I find great comfort and joy in promises like these:

"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32) --God went to radical extremes to provide for my greatest need: forgiveness of my sin, justification before a holy God, reconciliation with Him. How can I doubt that He will provide for my much smaller needs, which are that much easier for Him to meet?

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3a) --God is all-powerful, and He has already given me everything I need to live fully and to honor Him this moment. If there is something I lack, it is because He in His sovereign wisdom has determined I don't really need it to live an abundant life that brings glory to Him!

I pray that these precious girls will learn now what it has taken me twenty-four years to learn--that we are not only saved by grace; we live by grace every day--that the gospel is not just a story for unbelievers; it is the good news that enables us to stand before God and receive His blessings every day of our lives as His children.


Elizabeth said...

I was thinking about camps and summer team and good friendships I made the other day. It was all happy thoughts but it made me miss you.

So I stopped by to say hi and I am so glad I did. I missed this post the first time around. It is so good, thanks for the repost.

I hope all is well with your family. Miss you much!

Jennifer said...

Thanks for this post, Amy. My Girl has been a part of GEMS for 5 years now, and it's been a great part of her life. I wish she had you as her counsellor! The girls in your group are truly blessed to have you with them, pouring yourself into them.

I also want to let you know that I received my pocket "Gospel Primer" in the mail yesterday. It's wonderful! Thank you so much for this gift.

Blessings pour out upon you and yours,


Amy said...

so great to hear from you, Liz!

thanks for your sweet comment, Jennifer. unfortunately I'm not involved with GEMS anymore...I had to stop when my little guy was born (and now we're not even at that church anymore). I sure do miss it, though. I pray God will bring another opportunity for me to pour into younger girl(s) soon. glad you got the pocket Primer!