Trying Too Little

by | Jun 14, 2016 | Devotional | 0 comments

thumb_lazy_cat.jpg

This article is part of Sister Michelle Watson’s deep dive into the concept of “deny yourself” (Mt. 16:24, Mk. 8:34, Lu. 9:23, 3 Ne. 12:30). Today’s sub-theme is self-justification.

After studying up on self-justification, I realized that a huge portion of scripture is devoted to reinforcing the fact that it’s impossible. I can’t justify my sinful self to a holy God. Scripture says over and over again that I can’t possibly save myself by my good works, no matter how necessary those good works are to my discipleship. My sins require an infinite atonement, which can only be paid by Jesus Christ.

Back in Bible times, Paul had quite a time convincing the Jewish believers that Jesus fulfilled the law. The purpose of the Old Testament law wasn’t to test humans and grant eternal life to those who “passed;” it was to show humans that they can never measure up to what it demands. They need a Savior. Here’s some proof:

“By the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off.” – 2 Ne. 2:5-9

“By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” – Ro. 3:19-30

I think — and please tell me if I’m wrong — that previous generations struggled with this type of self-justification much more than we kooky millenials. In the past, when people got off track, it often had to do with trying too hard: trying to earn God’s love, trying to prove one’s goodness to God, trying to use human strength to fight spiritual battles, trying to never make a mistake (and covering it up when an oops happened). People tried hard to justify their righteousness instead of just admitting that they were sinners.

My generation is much more willing to admit this. Instead of raising our fists to defend our goodness, many will readily confess that we’re bad. That admission, in itself, is fine, but here’s what isn’t — we refuse to take the next step and do something to rectify our moral poverty.

I smile charmingly and say, “Boy, I’m such a screw-up. Thank God for His grace!” But then I never try to align myself more fully to God’s straight and narrow. I blunder through life, admitting my errors, but I won’t muster up the courage to change, to really grab hold of the rod of iron. I repent, but then I make a mockery of it by continuing in sin.

If previous generations tried too hard, then I’m trying too little.

I say glibly, “Uh-oh, gonna have to ask forgiveness for that one,” like all I have to do is chant the magic words. Or I throw up my hands in exasperation and say, “Ugh, I’m ONLY human,” as if I ONLY have access to my own strength and not the whole of heaven’s might. I insist that the church cut me some slack — I’m trying my best, after all. Or am I?

If my grandparents made the mistake of justifying their own righteousness, then I’m making the mistake of using my sinful nature as a cop-out and justifying why my sins just aren’t that bad. As for me and my peers, let’s wake up and walk the talk.

What about you? Which do you struggle with most, trying too hard or trying too little?

#SayCheeseTCOJC

Here’s the view from the pew in Colombus, OH, and Pinetop, AZ (after VBS decorating). 

SayCheeseTCOJC Collage 3

This article has undergone ministry review and approval.

Author

  • Sister Michelle Watson lives in the remote White Mountains of Arizona with husband, Brother Michael, and two miracle-born boys.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Further Reading

It’s What We Do

I wrote most of this article while my husband, Brother Greg, and I were in the car driving to a court hearing with a native friend in hopes that God will work a miracle and set him free. It's just what we do for our “Ponca family.”  Last year, we moved to...

Read More

A Bad Case of the Amazon Gimmies

"Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire." (Ecclesiastes 6:9) I can't remember exactly when my 6-year-old son learned about his Amazon wishlist, but it's a day that I've come to rue. Bitterly.  I keep an Amazon wishlist for him and his...

Read More

Never Miss a New Article

Subscribe to Our Email List
Sign up and get every new blog post sent straight to your inbox so you always have the day’s devotional at your fingertips.

We never share your email address with anyone for any reason, and we use it only to send you Gospel Blog emails. Just articles, not ads!

Your Story for God’s Glory

Share Your Testimony on Miracle Monday

We devote Miracle Monday to sharing miracle stories. From finding a lost wedding ring to healing cancer on the spot, Jesus Christ has done it all, big and small.

And we want to hear about what He’s done for you.

The Gospel Blog Is Open for Submissions

We encourage devotional-style or scripture-based articles in the ballpark of 500 words. We are open to any topic that glorifies God and unites the Church.