Prone to Extremes
We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. Galatians 2:16
My personality is prone to extremes. I tend to be all-or-nothing. Back when I used to run, I didn’t sign up for a 5K race, I signed up for the marathon. When I go to a steak house, I don’t order the petite filet mignon. I get the 23-ounce ribeye. If I’m going to go, I go big, in one direction or the other. This isn’t necessarily healthy behavior.
Unfortunately, I tend to be this way with my faith. Growing up, I lived as though grace meant that I could do whatever I wanted, simply asking forgiveness later. Now, in recovery, I tend to go the other way, becoming legalistic, over-emphasizing my role in salvation. Today’s passage then is the middle ground on which I need to focus. In it, Paul emphasized that we’re not saved by what we do. It’s not all about us. It’s about the love, sacrifice, and transforming grace of Jesus Christ. Only in believing in him, are forgiven and free.
In my addiction, I felt like the worst person in the world. I’d failed so many times, that I thought I was beyond help. To this, Paul would have said, “It’s not all about you. You can’t save yourself and you cannot be bad enough that God cannot save you. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done because your salvation doesn’t depend on how good or bad you’ve been. It depends only on how good Jesus is.”
In recovery now, because I’m prone to extremes, I sometimes go too far the other way. Now that my life has been transformed, I tend to think quite highly of myself. I’m quite the big deal. God is lucky to have me. He must love me a lot for how amazing I am. Once again, Paul would have corrected me. “Remember, It’s not all about you. It’s about God’s love for you. You can’t earn his love and you can’t make him love you more or less. You’re saved not by what you do. You’re saved simply by faith in Jesus Christ.”
Thankfully, no matter how good or bad I am, God loves me. I don’t have to rely on myself or worry that I’m too far gone. This should keep me hopeful, but also humble. I’m saved by his grace, because he loves me, no matter what.