“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people” Titus 2:11
Today’s readings challenge us to be self-controlled, upright and godly as we live in God’s grace. The Old Testament readings carry the promise of health, prosperity and blessings. Determination to live a righteous life is open to criticism as our actions are scrutinized for inconsistencies and our failures can overshadow our successes.
Deut. 7:12- If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors.
Titus 2:11-13 – “11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
Ps. 35:15-7 – “But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; attackers gathered against me when I was unaware. They slandered me without ceasing. Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked, they gnashed their teeth at me. O Lord, how long will you look on? Rescue my life from their ravages, my precious life from these lions.”
“You think you’re so great!” is often heard on the playground at recess. Children love to criticize, especially if they have been put down or humiliated by others. A dropped ball, a missed shot, a stumble on a response to a question, a failure on a test, being publicly called out by someone in a place of authority—these are all open to scrutiny. “Who cares!” the child retorts in anger as he walks away from the game, throwing down his glove in disgust, refusing to ever play again.
Our scriptures encourage us to be self-controlled and live upright and godly lives. But, this seems impossible, like maintaining a diet or exercise routine for longer than a week. We have excuses: I’m too busy, I don’t want to, I have ADHD, I tried and it didn’t work. Yet godliness is not an option for the people of God, it is the outcome of a relationship founded on grace.
We will stumble and fall, but we call upon the Lord to deal with our critics, including our own self-doubt. He is our co-conspirator against embarrassment as he continues to forgive and walk beside us in our quest for a victorious life.
Lord, it’s easier to give up than persist, especially when we feel judged when we fail. We know that we have no righteousness in ourselves, but we long to be better than we are. It takes persistence, discipline and courage to overcome bad habits or negative attitudes. Rather than walking away from the challenge, give us an appetite to carry on. Amen