Grace for the Good Girl
It's good to talk about grace. Grace being: the immense act of love and sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross to save us, despite the fact that we don't, and never will deserve it.
Grace fills our cracks and makes us whole, grace gives us hope and identity. Grace is for us even when we feel lost and dirty and afraid and far from being good enough.
But what about if we DO feel 'good enough' - or even when we just don't feel particularly bad? Is grace really needed for the girls who never miss a Sunday and never argue with their parents? Sarah's post today on this topic is wonderful and much-needed. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Team MP x
Okay, first admission: I stole the title.
When I was younger, I was given a book called 'Grace for the Good Girl' by my Sunday school teacher as an end of year present (a.k.a. subtle spiritual hint) but was far too proud and offended at the ever-so-subtle hint to ever read it.
Second admission: I’ve always been a ‘good girl’.
I was that eager-to-please kid in school that spent hours on a piece of homework, craving for recognition. I was that daughter who never really outwardly rebelled against her parents, and provided relief from the tension from other more rebellious siblings. I was that friend who didn’t give into peer pressure, who said no even when it was social suicide because that’s who I was: the Good Girl.
I would look at other teenagers in my church who were sneaking out to parties, drinking, going too far in relationships and living a double life and I would quietly sit and judge them.
When I saw them, I saw hypocrites; people that would turn up to church and say the right answers in Sunday School, whilst living for everything else but God from Monday to Saturday. I didn’t see that I was the biggest hypocrite. I judged everyone else for living pretty obvious double lives, but in reality I was deceiving everyone around me about who I was – including myself.
In my eyes, I was great. But, ironically, the ‘God points’ that I was giving myself were blocking my view of Jesus. I thought that I was good enough to earn salvation on my own. I heard the story of the Prodigal Son and secretly felt sorry for the older brother. I disconnected myself from Bible passages about humans being sinful... maybe all those people were sinful, but I was different.
And then, God stepped in.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."
After hearing those verses in my youth group one night, my life changed. I’d heard it several times before, but this time God opened my eyes to the truth. I was blown away at the ridiculousness of my self-righteousness. If God’s standard is perfection, then no matter how good I was, it wasn't good enough. Yet, I was so used to my ‘goodness’ that I couldn’t see how pathetic my attempts at earning my salvation were.
It’s as if we are born with black shirts, and to be right with God, our shirts have to be completely white. Not off-white, or white with a few dark smudges, but pure, spotless, unspoiled bleach white. I tried to make my shirt white; I used religion as a stain remover for my blackness. I tried to ignore the colour of my shirt and tell myself that it was white. But nothing worked.
Here’s the good news though; my story doesn’t end like this!
I realised that nothing I could do could get me to a standard of perfection - and so, I finally looked to Jesus. And to my amazement, he was wearing a shiny new white shirt. But he didn’t just look at my sorry state and boast about how glad he is that he has a white shirt. No, he reached out to me, embraced me and offered to swap shirts.
Isn’t that amazing? That even someone that was denial about how helpless they were can 'swap shirts' with Jesus? Even though I will never fully understand the depth of my darkness, He still made me white and unblemished.
And that’s why I’m a Christian today.
Not because I’ve got it all together (and I’m sorry when I make it look like I do) but because I really don’t.
Jesus has some pretty strong words about hypocrisy and pride. Earlier in the passage, he warns that the way we judge others is the way that we will be judged. Yet even now, as a Christian I find myself looking at other Christians and comparing myself to them on my inner 'holiness metre'.
God isn’t giving up on me though.
Even though I’m possibly the slowest learner out there, He’s patiently showing me how much I need Him. The more I learn about Jesus’ death on the cross, the more I realise the extent of my need for him.
My battle with self-righteousness will be a long one – possibly even for the rest of my life. If this has resonated with you, I want to encourage you to keep fighting. God doesn’t promise that he will take away our battles, whether that is battling more obvious outward sin or a more inward, devious fight like mine.
But He promises that his grace is enough, even for people that don’t always see their need for it. And He gives us strength to continue fighting it.
Sarah is an English student at Durham University, who has somehow managed to make it to second year, thanks to Sparknotes, Yorkshire Tea, Taylor Swift and some pretty great people. Sarah is passionate about telling students about Jesus and discipling girls in their walk with God. She lives in a small seaside town in Wales where there is never a dull moment, thanks to her crazy big family!