by Jessica Thompson
I love to trumpet the free grace of my Savior. I often find myself speaking to my sisters in Christ telling them that “their identity is Christ.”
It is easy to tell others to put down their reputation and their circumstances and to find their hiding place in Jesus. I know that what we do, what has been done to us, and how we respond is not the most important part of who we are. The most important part of who we are has been procured for us by Another. I believe all these things, but I also believe there is a battle to wage.
The problem is that I don’t have to see the brutality of this battle all that often. I feel like my life and my sin is pretty manageable for the most part. Sinning against my kids and my husband can be remedied easily enough with an apology and a hug. My sin in our little corner of our house doesn’t feel so daunting—almost like I don’t desperately need a Savior. But when my foolishness, hastiness, anger, or self-righteousness reaches those outside that small circle then I am undone.
I recently had a situation like this. It was a situation where my sin was on full display for a large group of people. My words that I intended to hurt and shame did their work perfectly.
I should never be surprised at my sin, or lack of love for others, but I was. I tried to justify what I had done. I even confessed my unkindness and sought reconciliation. Then I walked around the rest of that day with a low grade sense of guilt. It was almost like I hadn’t done enough to make up for what I had done. The shame I felt for this sin eased as I went to sleep that night, but in the middle of the night it woke me and it was no longer a low-grade sense of shame. It was high-octane tsunami of shame.
Now in those moments in the darkness of the night, when it is just me and God, this is where I can clearly see that I have made reputation my righteousness. What others think of me is what I find of first importance.
The question of course is, “What do I do in that moment of stillness on the outside and grappling on the inside?” My temptation is to run to the refuge of “try harder” or to the hiding place of sin justification.
In those moments, those painful, dark moments, is where I must throw myself fully and completely on God’s free grace. In that place I am not known as “the good mom, wife or friend;” I am known as the flawed, yet beloved child (Eph. 5:1). My reputation is already secured by faith in the Son. The sin that I am desperately trying to justify has in fact already been forgiven (1 John 2:12).
And to believe this is really true—that is the fight, it is the battleground where I must wage my war. The fight to believe that being hidden in Christ is all I need (Col. 3:3). The fight is to hold on to the truth that his love for me is enough. It’s the fight to see that my righteousness is in the righteousness of Another.
I will have nights when I win that fight and nights that I lose it. In both of those times there is one truth that liberates. That truth is that my righteous standing before God is not dependent on me or my ability to deal with my sin. Forgiven and given Christ’s righteousness, I am completely right before a Holy God. His faithful, loyal, covenantal, steadfast, unending love has been given to me for eternity because of Christ Jesus.
“Oh! Praise the One who paid my debt
And raised this life up from the dead!”
– Kristian Stanfill, “Jesus Paid It All”
ABOUT THE WRITER
Jessica Thompson (@Jesslou) grew up in SoCal, has a degree in theology, and is married to her sweetheart, Cody. The Lord has blessed them with three children who she homeschools. She co-authored Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids With the Love of Christ with her mom, Elyse Fitzpatrick. Jess is writing a forthcoming devotional for children and parents to enjoy the gospel together (Crossway 2013) and blogs at Give Them Grace.