5 Minutes in the Word: Titus 3-5
He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
Titus 3:5, NIV
Repeat after me, “It’s not about me.” Once more for good measure. “It’s not about me.” Exhale. Mull on that for a moment. He saved you, and He saved me because of His mercy, not because of our righteousness.
This is an easy concept for me to understand when I think back to my time in college. My life was anything but righteous. I know all too well the effects liquid courage can have on an insecure girl. What seemed “courageous” at 2 am flooded me with shame the next morning. After three years of the party life, I was burned out and the ache in my heart that a fun college experience was supposed to fill only burned more. When a friend shared the Gospel with me, and I had this light bulb moment of truth move my heart, I knew I wanted to start following Jesus. I went to church every Sunday, put myself on a regimented Bible reading plan, joined a Bible study, stopped going out, removed expletives from my vocabulary, and learned to like coffee. I became really good at being good.
I’m not trying to downplay the amazing redemption story God authored in my life and the heart change that very much happened. What I am trying to say is that somehow, some way, I became more caught up in following the rules than I did following Christ. The love Jesus had for me was dependent on me. Based on how I lived, Titus 3:5 could have easily been rewritten to say, "He saved me, because of my righteousness, and only because of my righteousness.” Conditional love at its finest. This worked great when I was doing well and feeling good. But the second I missed a quiet time, told a lie or did something wrong, I was toast, pummeled by condemnation, sure I was on very thin ice with God.
So what changed for me? When did the pivotal realization come that Christ’s love for me wasn’t about me following the rules? When did His grace capture my heart more than striving towards righteousness? I want to be wholly honest with you and tell you there wasn’t one moment that I figured out this unconditional love thing. There were moments, though, little ways God spoke to my heart and gave me permission to breathe. Moments I became more comfortable not having the Christian life figured out. Moments I learned failure didn't come with a death sentence. Moments I experienced God’s outlandish, undeserved grace towards me. Moments I was able to resist the lies that said God didn’t love me anymore because I had a bad day. Slowly, but surely, I learned truth isn’t a capsule I swallow once and never have to take again, rather truth is someone I am invited to commune with daily. His name is Jesus, and He saved me, not because I’m really good at being a Christian, but because of His mercy, His really good mercy.
Today, I’m reminded that the gift of the Gospel is not a merit-based award dependent on my performance.
I’m reminded that I’m still okay, even if I overslept and didn’t spend time with the Lord this morning.
And I’m reminded that it isn’t about me. And man-oh-man, isn’t that a sweet, sweet relief?!
Written by Blake Snyder