My brother Tedd tells a hilarious story of when his son first started to drive. The child went out one evening with the car, and he returned home walking. No vehicle in the driveaway; that’s a bad sign!
Tedd said to his son, “Where’s the car?” And my nephew said, “It’s up on the mountain.” Confused and a bit worried, my brother asked the next logical parental question: “Why is it there?”
I love teenagers: He responded, “I was driving, and the car just went off the road.”
I know we live in 2021, and cars have the scary ability to partially drive themselves, but this story is from years ago. The car didn’t just assume control of the journey and say, “I’m going to crash now!”
It’s easy to poke fun at a teenager’s defense of their car accident, but it’s a human thing to do no matter how mature you think you are. Consider your most recent defense of an ungodly response or behavior:
- “I’m not feeling well” or “I’m just exhausted.”
- “It’s been a busy week” or “Work is stressing me out.”
- “I can’t help it; it’s my personality” or “They knew they were pushing my buttons!”
Have you ever said, “I didn’t mean to say that”? The more biblical reaction would be to say, “Please forgive me for saying what I meant.”
Yes, we live in a fallen world with sinful people, but “the good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45, ESV)
This Lenten season, we take forty days to mourn that our biggest problem in life is us and that our greatest danger lives inside of us. It’s not your spouse, your children, your boss, your government, your culture, your financial difficulty, or your health issues. It’s you!
We can try to change our circumstances, locations, and relationships, but we can’t run from ourselves. I’ve found that whenever I try to run from me, I show up with me at the end of the run.
Lent is also a celebration – a sad but hopeful celebration that we can’t move toward God until God first moves toward us. The Lenten season is not about what you have done for God or what you will give up, but what God in glorious grace has done for you.
The humbling core message of Christianity is that salvation is never found in your religious duty. Every other religion tells you that there are things that you can do to achieve acceptance with God.
The Christian hope is found in the radical things that God in love has done for you.
You will never celebrate the good news of the resurrection unless you accept the bad news of why it was necessary. Jesus rose to conquer sin and death because we cannot defeat sin and death on our own.
You and I have no power individually against temptation. Independently, we have no ability against the forces of sin. Left to our willpower and spiritual strength, we have no chance against the lies of the enemy.
So God had to do a radical thing. He sent his Son to earth to live a perfectly righteously life, then to the cross to die in your place, and then rose him from the dead to conquer sin and death.
May we remember and hold fast to the resurrection in a way that rules our hearts and shapes our lives.
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2, ESV)
Paul David Tripp
1. What was the last mistake you made that was your fault, yet you tried to blame something or someone else?
2. What was the last regrettable thing you said that you tried to justify? What was your excuse?
3. Why is it such a struggle to accept wrongdoing for our words and actions? Be specific and consider why you are quick to shift the blame or summon your inner defense lawyer?
4. Do you tend to make fun of or look down on people who are younger or less experienced than you for their flaws? How do you struggle in similar ways? Can humility change your relationship with these people?
5. How can you practically live out of resurrection power today? What temptations or lies of the enemy are you battling that you need help with? What steps will you take?