“Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Luke 7:6-7).
The centurion knew he didn’t deserve anything.
That’s why Jesus granted his request.
As long as we think we deserve a hearing, our prayers will go unanswered because God isn’t impressed by the things that impress us. He doesn’t play by our rules. We talk as if we’re saved by faith, but we act as if we’re saved by works. Down in our hearts we believe, “If I was a better person, God would answer my prayers.” So we try and try and keep on trying, we work hard, we go to church and obey the rules, we try to be good, and we hope that will make a difference with God.
But let us get into a crisis and suddenly we start praying like a Christian. When life crashes in around us, we see clearly what we knew all along, that all our good deeds are nothing but “filthy rags” in his sight. Even our best moments are colored with self-interest, pride, ego, and mixed motives. When we are in trouble, then we realize that it’s not our daily Quiet Time that will pull us through. It’s God and God alone.
That’s why it’s a good thing to be backed into a corner now and then. Desperate situations make us Christian all over again. We quit talking about how wonderful we are, and we simply cry, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.”
The first step in salvation—the one that really matters and can never be skipped—is to understand that you desperately need saving and there is nothing—nothing!—you can do to save yourself. As long as we think we have a claim on God, we either will not come to Christ, or if we do, we will always secretly think that we weren’t really that bad off in the first place.
It is good to be completely humbled before the Lord because then we come as beggars before him, pride stripped, arrogance gone, knowing that were it not for grace, we could not come at all. But when we come before the Lord crying out for mercy, that’s when we discover the life-changing power of Jesus Christ.
We thank you, Lord Jesus, for undeserved mercy that comes to us in the nick of time, just when we need it most. Amen.
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