I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies.

Genesis 32:10

I would be a lot better off if I could just get my mind wrapped solidly around this truth and keep it there. Unlike some portions of The Bible, where people can debate meanings and so on, this verse is straightforward. I am unworthy.

This whole notion flies in the face of American society today. We—American society—are so worried about our self-esteem and whether or not we love ourselves that we’ve lost sight of this fundamental truth. We think that we’re worthy of any and every good thing that comes our way because we are under the delusion that we have somehow “earned” it. The truth is that we are unworthy and we have earned nothing as far as God is concerned. So it is that Americans come to God, if they come at all, with this notion of deserving something; of being owed something; of self-worth.

Jesus told a parable of two dudes: a religious dude and a tax collector. Both of these cats went down to the church to pray. Now the religious guy stands off to the side, right out in the open like, and prays out loud about how he is so grateful that God did not make him like other people. He’s all excited about how much religious stuff he does and he totally misses the point. This cat’s prayers do nothing except make a lot of noise. Then you got this tax collector. Most Americans hate the IRS, so this parable still works pretty good. This IRS auditor-type guy finds an out-of-the-way corner and basically curls up in a ball and begs God to show him mercy. That dude is heard by God; forgiven. People interpret the parable different ways, which is cool since parables can handle that kind of thing. But there is a subtext that we are likely to miss if we don’t pay attention: the one who thinks he is worthy just makes noise and never really communicates with God while the one who knows he is unworthy not only communicates with God but finds forgiveness.

That is what I need to get my mind around. That is what I really need to remember today and every day. God does not owe me anything. I am not worthy of His attention or love. He loves because He loves, not because I deserve it. And every blessing in my life is here despite my unworthiness.

God, please help me to keep this clear and sharp in my mind as I begin the day. May it be sharp enough to cut away all the pretense to worthiness I carry around.


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