|I can’ help but “Amen!” that one line from the worship song “What a Beautiful Name.” It simplifies all I know about God’s mercy: My sin was great. Your love was greater.|
God’s love will always be greater. As Wesleyan Christians, we speak a lot about the grace of God. It shapes how we understand God’s redemptive work. So, you’d be hard-pressed to not hear us talk about it. Some take that to mean we’re soft on sin. Not at all.
The grace of God doesn’t excuse sin. It forgives it. It redeems it. Now, that’s not our get-out-of-jail-free card. Rather, it’s a reminder of how good God is to us. The apostle Paul asked, “How can we who died to sin go on living in it” (Romans 6:2)? Sin, he continues, has no dominion over the Christian heart because of God’s grace (Romans 6:14).
For that reason, in our reflection, it’s good to begin with what we know and are learning about God. We’re not ignoring who we are or what we’ve done. There’s no benefit to pretending. At the same time, it’s a bit self-centered if you only and mainly talk about how much of a sinner you are. Again, God’s love and grace are greater! Refocusing on God redirects our attention more to the goodness of God.
Psalm 36 offers us an illustration of this perspective. The psalm opens with a word about the wicked. Transgression runs deep in their hearts. In their eyes, they are well. Their mouths carry “mischief and deceit.” And while they lie on their beds, they plot their schemes. Notice the depth of their iniquity. It’s as deep as their heart and even gets as low as their bed.
Sounds bad, right? Well, let’s let the psalmist now broaden our perspective.
Whereas deceit runs deep in the heart, God’s steadfast love extends to the heavens. God’s faithfulness reaches the clouds. The Lord’s righteousness has the heights of the mountains. God’s judgments complete the fullness of the image by being like the great deep.
Do you see the comparison? Truly, our sin is great. It feels like it runs deep. But God’s love is greater. Amen!
We can also sense the psalmist’s affirmation of our premise to focus more on God’s love and grace first. He says, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” Do we need to reflect upon who we are and what we do? Of course. That’s a wise and mature way to grow in grace understanding. At the same time, let your reflection begin with God’s light, how good God is.
You won’t notice your sin less. Quite the opposite. You’ll appreciate more what God has done for us. You’ll question why and how sin grabbed you. And the depth of God’s steadfast love will be light to your soul.