I have been in a weird funk if I can just be straight. I’ve tried to explain to people that I have not had the capacity to focus and I can’t seem to pin point it. It’s like my mind just goes and goes and when it has the ability to focus, it’s either on my circumstances or my own insecurities, doubts, fears, struggles, self, you name it. So I want to write about a remedy for this. Really the only remedy for any season of life, whether good or bad. The remedy is to behold the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus himself is the gospel, so may we look to him always. This quote by Robert McCheyne hasn’t left my mind the past few days. It says:
“For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely. Such infinite majesty, and yet such meekness and grace, and all for sinners, even the chief! Live much in the smiles of God. Bask in his beams. Feel his all-seeing eye settled on you in love, and repose in his almighty arms. . . Let your soul be filled with a heart-ravishing sense of the sweetness and excellency of Christ and all that is in Him. Let the Holy Spirit fill every chamber of your heart; and so there will be no room for folly, or the world, or Satan, or the flesh..”
I am naturally one to be overly introspective and hard on myself when it comes to sin and seasons of life where I don’t feel close to God, like as I speak. I often feel that I have to be perfectly holy at once, which is far from the truth. God conforms His children from one degree of glory to the other (2 Cor. 3:18), which means it will probably seem slower than we wish. That same verse says this happens as we behold the glory of the Lord. When I behold Christ, I get to see that he is lovely and infinitely humble and gracious. I get to be amazed at the very foundation and object of the Christian faith–Jesus himself.
In my pursuit to become more like Christ, I often focus more on holiness and growth than Christ himself. That usually plays itself out in two ways- 1). I surround myself with “Christian” things but neglect looking solely to Christ in his Word. 2). I put pressure on myself or look at my own ability to carry out God’s Word. When I put the weight on myself, it often leads to despair. Not only so, but I find myself becoming prideful and it affects how I see God and others. But instead of looking down at myself or my circumstances, I am to “behold the glory of the Lord.” The focus is not on my effort, but on Jesus.
I want to share with you an example but spare the details because those aren’t the point. In God’s grace, I was hit in the face with my own sin last night and how it has affected a dear friendship that had started to wane. I had been confronted with how my own sin had hurt this person and she lovingly expressed that hurt. I had nothing but to listen and own up to my sin. No excuses. Just blatantly saw my sin for what it was (side tangent: thank God for using community to lovingly point out sin to you that you may not see. And for those who forgive you and love you through your sin). God revealed that how I was treating this person was not Christ-like, and though I was convicted, I was tempted to fix my eyes on myself and on what I can do to change it. I was tempted to sulk in my sin. But God was gracious to remind me of the gospel in that moment and turn my eyes from myself and onto Christ in light of my sin. I read something recently that says:
“The excellency of Christ is both the brilliant contrast to the sin in our hearts, and the remedy to the sin we find there.”
The gospel strips our pride by not giving us the right to overlook sin, but also to keep us from falling into the trap of over-inspection of sin. If I were to overlook my own sin that has been blatantly pointed out to me, that would be prideful. But if I were to focus so much more on the sin in my heart than the grace offered to me at the Cross, that would also be prideful. In both instances I am saying: “No thanks, Jesus. I’ve got this.” Either, “I’m too good for your sacrifice” or “I’m too far off for your sacrifice.” The gospel redirects my thoughts about myself (or it should if I am seeing it clearly). The gospel creates space to see my sin for what it truly is, and see Christ as all the more beautiful because he took my sin upon himself. The gospel takes my eyes off of me and onto Jesus.
He bears the full weight of my sin. He redeems all things and is sovereign over all things. He exposes the darkness and brings it to the light. I can’t do any of that, He can.
“How many millions of dazzling pearls and gems are at this moment hidden in the deep recesses of the ocean caves. Likewise, unfathomable oceans of grace are in Christ for you. Dive and dive again—you will never come to the bottom of these depths!
When you gaze upon the sun—it makes everything
else dark; when you taste honey—it makes everything
else tasteless. Likewise, when your soul feeds on Jesus
—it takes away the sweetness of all earthly things;
praise, pleasure, fleshly lusts, all lose their sweetness.
Keep a continued gaze! Run, looking unto Jesus. So
will the world be crucified to you—and you unto the world!”
Please be encouraged by this, friends. It is a good thing to see your sin for what it is, but do not despair in it. Look up and see the beauty of Christ, calling you to freedom in him. Take heart, for he alone has overcome the world and sin! For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.
Hebrews 12:2- “…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…”
For His glory,