The floor of our screened-in porch looked reasonably clean. I debated whether I should take the time and make the effort to wash it down or not. I decided to do so, and removed the floor mat in preparation for washing the floor. Wow! The contrast of the floor protected under the mat and the rest of the floor was amazing! The large expanse of floor that had appeared reasonably clean now looked really dirty in contrast to the part of the floor protected by the mat.
I suspect that a good number of my readers have had the same experience when moving furniture off from a protected piece of carpet or other flooring. You don’t realize how dirty something is until you have something pristine clean to which you can compare it.
It’s good to recall such an experience when we find ourselves thinking that our level of being good measures up quite well to the goodness of our holy God. We can get to feeling that the contrast between us and the worst of people is greater than the contrast between our goodness and God. Pull away the floor mat! Get real! Nothing could be further from the truth!
One limitation of this illustration is that it vastly understates the difference between me and God. The contrast on the floor was stark and obvious but was not extreme. The difference between God and me is infinitely greater, beyond measurement of any kind. God is holy, holy, holy (the only attribute of God in the Bible that is repeated three times, probably for emphasis) and I am not! Oh, I can pass myself off as a fairly decent person, but that’s when I choose the people to whom I want to compare myself, or want you to compare me to. When it comes to God, there’s no comparison!
This is the bad news, but there’s also good news! This same God who is holy, holy, holy is also a God of great grace and mercy! He expressed that grace and mercy, Christians believe, by coming to earth, becoming one of us, dying on a cross for us, and rising again to offer us a totally cleansing job through His forgiveness.
I cleaned the floor of the screened porch. You can peek under the floor mat and it’s the same clean! The floor didn’t do it, I did it. I know I’m okay, cleansed, before my holy, holy, holy God. I didn’t do it through any effort on my part by trying to be good or going through any rituals. He did it, through His gracious and merciful action!
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— ” Ephesians 2:8