8/25/13 Felipe about 40
I understand a New Testament purpose for God’s law such as the Ten Commandments is that it functions as the standard or mirror by which we can judge ourselves and see our need for forgiveness in Jesus. So I was glad today when a man at the park named Felipe said that he believes it is important for people to “look into the mirror” so they won’t be surprised when they stand before God on Judgment Day. But I was disappointed to find out that Felipe’s “mirror” is not God’s law but comparing himself to other people. By this standard he could feel pretty good about himself. After all, he works hard and is responsible for his family. He isn’t an abusive parent or a serial killer like we read about in newspapers. Like Felipe, other people are confident in their own self-righteousness because they pray five times a day, or because they stand for social justice issues, or because they feel enlightened with secret knowledge, or because they believe they are above the belief in God or reward or punishment in order to be good, or because they trust in their own level of sorrow for their sin, or because they witness every day. But God’s standard is His law, not other people, so I asked Felipe if he would like to take a short “good person” test. Most people are able to honestly compare themselves to 3 or 4 of the commandments, but not Felipe. After considering the fact that he had lied, and that having told just one lie would make him a liar, Felipe quickly came up with excuse about why he had to get going and avoid further questions like this. He was like the proud young man who went away from Jesus sad when he realized he wasn’t as good as he thought he was. He believed in “looking in the mirror”, but he reserved the right to decide which mirror he would look into. Honoring God and His sovereignty means we will let God set the standard for goodness, and that we will look into His mirror, His perfect law that revives the soul (Psalm 19:7) – not a mirror of our own choosing. As Christians wanting to share our faith we don’t have to judge anyone, all we need to do is help others see themselves in the mirror and help them to judge themselves. Then they can see that their need is not for hollow self-righteousness but for true righteousness - the right relationship with God that can only come through faith in Jesus.