We all have the ability. We mess up our houses, leaving dirt, scratches, cracks and gouges in our path. We mess up our cars, staining the carpet, tearing the seats, and denting the fenders. We mess up our relationships, leaving a trail of hurt and conflict behind us. We mess up our churches, finding our will and way more attractive than the glories of God’s kingdom and leaving a trail of division in our path. We mess up our bodies, eating more than we should, more often than we should, while exercising less than we should.
I don’t know if you have realized this or not, but the Bible is a story of people who messed up again and again. The Bible is not the record of noble people who always made the right choice. The people of the Bible look familiar and human because they have the same attitudes that we do and take the same actions that we tend to take. But, here is the thing that is different about the biblical story. The biblical story is God’s story. It is a story of a loving God, who is intent on rescuing us from ourselves and his loving work of redemption is something we simply cannot destroy. It is not based on our faithfulness, rather, it is rooted in his!
Take Abraham, for example. In Genesis 15 God comes to Abraham and makes his covenant with him. He tells Abraham that he is going to have descendants that number like the stars of the sky and that through his descendants every nation on earth will be blessed. What does Abraham do? He goes right out and messes things up. He is tired of waiting for an heir, so he has sex with his servant girl, Hagar, who has a son. Sarah, Abraham’s wife (who was part of the plot) gets jealous, starts mistreating the servant girl, and Hagar flees into the wilderness.
What a mess! You would think that God would say to Abraham, “Now, there you’ve done it. You have destroyed everything I was willing to give you. You have messed up my covenant. It’s all over.” But that is not what God says. In Genesis 17, God comes to Abraham again and repeats his covenant promises, this time adding that this covenant is an eternal covenant. Why? Because God wants Abraham to know that the covenant is not based on Abraham’s faithfulness, but on His. Abraham has finally met something in his life that he cannot destroy. Abraham has been invited into something that he does not deserve and cannot earn. Abraham has been invited to experience grace.
What does this mean? It means security! It means hope! It means a future! No, it doesn’t mean that you can live anyway you want to live, because that is a horrible violation of the grace that you have been given. What is does mean is that, if you are one of God’s children you have been welcomed into something you cannot destroy. The foundation of your covenant hope is not your faithfulness. The foundation of your eternal hope is God’s faithfulness. And since it is impossible for God to be unfaithful, everything that he has promised us is guaranteed and sure. Let that hope get you out of bed in the morning!
And don’t forget to celebrate the one thing in life you did not earn and cannot destroy.
Paul David Tripp