Psalm 51:1-2 – Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. (NIV)
One Sunday recently, as our pastor prayed at the start of worship, he asked God to fill each one of us, and to do His transforming work in every part of our lives. As we prayed this, suddenly a thought shot through my mind: "All of me — how hard that is!" With our sinful human nature, our walk with the Lord (or mine, anyway) can day by day be like two steps forward and one step back. Some days it even seems more like one step forward and two steps back.
How can I, in every part of my life, be perfect, like Christ? Then, this question followed the first thought: "What percentage of me would be okay? 75 percent? 80 percent? Even 90 percent?"
After the service, as I reflected on those two fleeting thoughts, my mind followed a course something like this:
- Yes, it is hard to be more and more like Jesus (especially when I try in my own strength)!
- So, realistically, would giving, say, 90 percent of me to Him be okay? (Oh, so which of my old, bad (sinful) habits is okay to hold on to?)
- Hey! I can't do this by myself!
The Holy Spirit within us creates the hunger to be more like Jesus, our Friend and Saviour. Our sinful human nature, with which we were born, battles against that and sometimes wins those battles. The apostle Paul shared his own experience: "For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing." (Romans 7:19 AMPC) We are not alone in our struggle!
Well, is 90 percent a high enough percentage to give to Him? (In just saying that, doesn't His Spirit make us shudder in rejection of the very thought?!) The Holy Spirit urges us on towards the only percentage that is really "high enough": 100 percent — and the truth is that we cannot do it by ourselves. So, let us daily take refuge in our merciful God and continue to pray, even as David did in Psalm 51. For the cleansing and the growth in Christlikeness that we need and desire are God's work, not our own. Although in this life we continue to lose some battles, at Calvary, Jesus won the war. Even today, as God looks at you and me, He sees His Son in us. How could we offer Him less than 100 percent?
Prayer: Gracious God, we thank You that You know us — and You love us! Help us to humble ourselves before You and to rely on Your strength to walk closer to, and to grow to be more like, Your risen Son. Amen.