I had suddenly found myself too far away from the shore. For somebody like me that cannot swim this is a major deal. The water was at least twenty feet deep so there was no chance of touching the ocean floor and peeking my head up out of the water simultaneously. Nope. I was sinking faster than LeBron’s popularity.
As I began flailing in the water, taking in huge gulps of my demise, I suddenly noticed another poor chap that was about 300 yards out further than I was. Homeboy was further from the shore and sinking in much deeper water. So, I thought to myself at least I’m not this guy. Of course, I’m going to die but at least it won’t be as far away from the shore as that loser. As I breathed my last I took a little solace in the fact that I was better than my fellow shark bait.
Isn’t that the way that we often treat our standing with the Lord? We readily admit that we mess up. “Nobody is perfect right?” But then we are quick to point out at least a bit of our righteousness.
“Yeah, I mess up from time to time. I get angry with my kids. I harbor bitterness. I have a tendency to be prideful and judgmental. But at least I don’t meth up my life. At least I’m not a male hooker.”
Scripture has a way of leveling things out though. Paul does this much in Romans 3.
“For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…”
To use our analogy, “There is no distinction: we are all drowning in an ocean of God-belittling sin AND we are all justified through the same gracious life saving, hell-rescuing, blood of Jesus.”
It is pretty stupid to pride yourself on drowning in only twenty feet of water compared to the poor dude that is drowning in fifty. But isn’t that what we do whenever we compare our own “righteousness” to the unrighteousness of another?
The only solution to being rescued from a judgmental heart and attitude is to really come to grips with our standing apart from Christ. And then to realize that it was only grace that rescued us from the bottom of the ocean, revived our dead hearts, and has blessed us abundantly more than we deserve.
It’s kind of hard to laugh at those drowning when you’ve been scooped off the ocean floor…