...because left to my own strength, I won't. Good morning. Nice and crisp, as they say, out there for my walk this morning. The same may be said with 'I can', not that it's nice or crisp, but that without Jesus, I might as well just say up front that I can't. This is different from what the world tells us: You can accomplish great things through hard work, dedication, talent, and a little luck. The world admits that there is a bit more than just the first three, but no one seems to want to credit God. Have you noticed that luck can be dumb but never smart? I have seen many a person work hard, long hours, and with dedication who accomplished nothing more than a paycheck. I have done it myself. The hardest working actor may lose a choice part because the other actor had the right face for the part. Does all of our hard work impress God when we do it for only that reason?
I'm sure that God credits our hard work, but let us ask in another way. How can I as an imperfect man impress a perfect God? Won't happen; as Isaiah writes, "...and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags." (64:6) Without Jesus, all of my effort comes up short, like filthy rags. I can work hard, but accomplish nothing of value. What? Raising children is of no value. Providing for a home, paying taxes, and serving my country of no value? One question: without Jesus, will any of that save you? If all of that is done only to serve the world's system, how is God glorified? Whoops, that's two questions. I will do my miscounting and bumbling to the glory of God. I will boast of some more of my seemingly endless supply of weaknesses so that God's strength will be made perfect.
I have done some hard work in this life to make myself more comfortable, or to tell myself I 'done good'. I have worked long hours deep into the night, and on a few occasions into the next morning and hoped for some kind of praise or reward. But all of that is like a sacrifice given simply to follow a requirement of the law. "Meh, better toss another bull on the altar, I think I'm due for another one. Gotta keep those priests happy or they'll curse my harvest." Without Jesus, I can't keep the law, much less to live to the glory of God. If I had to satisfy the Law of Moses in my strength, I would estimate that I have already violated in thought or deed 90-something percent of it. The remainder I can't violate because I haven't been married. Without Jesus, a wife would only help me violate the remaining small percentage of the Law. Perhaps in place of 'help me' I should use 'provide the opportunity to', shouldn't blame the poor wife who ain't even there yet.
All of this is to say that I am a sheep, and without my Good Shepherd I will simply follow the flock around - sort of around, as a writer with PTSD, I'm a bit flock-averse so to speak - until I find myself in a blind canyon somewhere and come to my lonely end. I believe in Jesus Christ, and with Him I am able to perform great works to the glory of God the Father. Alone, my accomplishments are useless. In Christ, my works help to build God's kingdom, and that is a wonderful privilege!Praise and glory to our Lord Jesus!