Most of us tend to grade ourselves on a curve. I will never forget a prisoner I met at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. When I asked if he would spend eternity in Heaven when he died, he told me yes. Surprised, I asked why he thought so.
The convicted criminal told me, “I think I’ve been a pretty good person.” Here he was in a maximum-security prison paying for his crime, yet he considered himself “a pretty good person.” He may have been good by his standards, but not by the standards of the state of Louisiana.
The problem with judging ourselves by our standards is we set the mark too low. We are content to meet the “status quo,” which changes from one day to the next. Even when overachievers raise the bar higher, they smugly measure themselves against the lower standards set by others and fall into complacency.
There is a higher standard — perfection. This standard has been defined by God Himself, and in His eyes we all fall short. God doesn’t look at my prisoner friend and say, “I will lower my perfect standard because you had good behavior during your sentence.” He doesn’t look at me and say, “I will lower the mark because you are a pastor.” We are all guilty, all worthy of an eternity in Hell.
But God’s grace is equal to His justice. In full knowledge of our plight, He sent His perfect Son to bridge the gap created by our sin. When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the ransom necessary to set us free. All who put their trust in His death, shed blood, and resurrection are washed in His blood and cleansed from all of their sins.
Have you been measuring yourself by God’s standards or your own? Maybe you are a Christian who is content to “play church.” You go through the motions, but look down upon others who don’t measure up to your standards. Measure yourself by God’s higher standard. Perhaps you are not a Christian, but you consider yourself “a good person.” Again, measure yourself by God’s standard. You need a Savior, and that is what Jesus is. Accept His payment for your sins, and gain eternal life.
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Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.