In a Good Bad Place

Daily Reform, Day 115

Galatians 2:16 & Psalm 51:6-17

From the Reformer

The second part is this. God sent His only-begotten Son into the world that we may live through His merit. He was crucified and killed for us. By sacrificing His Son for us God revealed Himself to us as a merciful Father who donates remission of sins, righteousness, and life everlasting for Christ’s sake. God hands out His gifts freely unto all men. That is the praise and glory of His mercy.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

God does not require sacrifice or offering. He requires a contrite spirit, a broken heart. This does not feel good; in fact, it feels very bad, even hopeless. Yet when we are in such a condition, we are at the place where we are ready to admit that we cannot do it on our own, that we need help. This help comes in the form of God’s mercy and is available to all people because he was sacrificed, resurrected, and ascended to his Father on behalf of all people. This mercy is the only answer for our need because it reunites us to God, as was intended from the beginning.

The problem is that all people are not in a place where they sense their need. They are proud, thinking that they can be good enough for heaven if they just do enough good things and are kind to others and go to church. Nothing could be further from the truth. When we do these things with such a proud spirit we have become our own god, dispensing a false leniency to ourselves. We are incapable of receiving any gift from God when we are so haughty.

This is why God loves a broken spirit. He does not glory in your hurt but in your being in a condition where you really know your need and may finally desire and receive his benevolence. In this way, when we are in the bad place of spiritual desperation, we have actually arrived at the good place of receiving mercy and hope from God.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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