There was a time “when I went to church” that I wore the best I had. There was a time when I went to a wedding or a funeral that I wore the best I had. There was even a time when I went on a long trip (especially if I went by train or plane) that I wore the best I had. In those days, there were many occasions that called for wearing the best that I had.

No more! Now ‘casual’ is the appropriate attire on many occasions, and ‘casual’ is defined by the one who wears—not the occasion. We used to show respect by what we wore. If most of us declare anything by our clothing now, wonder what it is?

When God looks on us, He sees us for what we are. Clothing does not hide sin or conceal faithlessness. God sees character flaws, not skin blemishes. He sees the negative emotions we try to hide. He sees lousy attitudes we conceal. He sees genuine heart motives. Every moment of every day in every situation, He sees the ‘real me’.

The only being in the whole world that knows the total truth about us as individuals is God. Our wife or our husband knows us well, but not like God does. Our kids know many of our inconsistencies, but God knows all of them. Our best friend knows our imperfections, but not as accurately as God knows. He knows all we think. He knows the correct answer to every ‘why’? He knows the actual motives in every situation—even when we manage to deceive ourselves. He even knows the controlled but unsaid.

Yet, the most amazing thing is this: He has all that accurate knowledge of us as individuals, and He still loves each of us as a person. He is able to forgive me when I cannot forgive myself. He can forget what I did when I cannot. He can ignore weaknesses that haunt me. When I fail, He will let me begin again as if I never made the mistake. When I absolutely hold myself in contempt, He still cares about me.

When I arrogantly claim I am not responsible for my faults, He can inform me of the worst thing I have done—yet, He still loves me. When I condemn others for their flaws, He shakes His head and, in love, hopes I repent (He sees the two-by-four in my eye while I look at specks in your eye). He sees my anxieties when I justify them, and, in love, hopes I heed Jesus’ call to come to him. He saves me in all my imperfections because He loves me. He asks of us but three core things: (a) let Him be our measuring stick; (b) trust what He did for us in Christ; and (c) love Him in return for His love for us. Being flawless is not a divine expectation. Human flawlessness is never an option.

All I can do is trust Him to love me as much as He says He does. My mistakes may be bigger than your ability to forgive me. However, my mistakes are never bigger than His forgiveness. He can actually love me when I refuse to love myself.

Perhaps this is the greatest expression of faith: to believe God loves me as much as He says He does. Only then will I forgive me because He first forgave me.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 19 October 2006

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