My oldest child will soon be entering second grade, but before we take that leap, I’ve been reflecting on first grade. It was a year filled with new adventures (the bus–need I say more), corny jokes, and inquiries of a particular finger gesture. I giggled with him and pretended I’d never heard these same jokes I told 30 years ago, and instructed him that “pointing” your finger like that is the same as sticking your tongue out at the preacher. You just don’t do it.
By far my favorite habit he gleaned from his seven year old peers is saying, “I’m true,” to bring exciting stories to a close. It’s a declaration of valor, proof that we should trust him. For example, “Mommy today Johnny ate FOUR hot dogs at lunch. I’m true, I’m true!” I guess my expression slightly changes mid-story, why else would he find it necessary to quickly interject this new tag-line?
It hit me the other day, aren’t we all like the first grade child, desperately declaring our valor? With every story we tell, every issue we debate, and every decision we make, we subconsciously proclaim our truth in the matter.
Our constant need to be right and true stems from the world’s–and our–addiction to self-worth. But no matter how much the world tries to inflate my pride, the fact is on my own I am not true, my intentions are not pure and I am not good. No matter how much I try, or how much willpower I muster up, the word of God says even my best try falls short. Isaiah 64:6 goes so far as to call my efforts at righteousness “filthy rags.” There is nothing in me alone that is honest, or upstanding. Nothing.
While one would think this to be the most damning and depressing spiritual information ever leaked, it’s actually freed me to live my frail life in my strong Savior. In the frequent times I feel the need to be right–to defend my valor– God reminds me that although I may be true-ish, He alone is fully true. And if I’ll stop, repent, and choose to operate in His imputed righteousness–instead of my right-ness–then, and only then, can His truth shine through me. Sometimes it’s too late, and I’ve already steamrolled over someone with my stubborn right-ness. That’s when grace reminds me I don’t have to beat myself up, or grovel in my mistake. Psalm 85:10 tells me His mercy goes hand in hand with His truth, and His righteousness and peace are one.
Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Freedom is living my imperfect life, all the while standing not on my truth, but on God’s truth. Freedom is opening my mouth and saying things or moving my feet and doing things that bear no resemblance to my Lord, but falling fast into the forgiveness and restoration only He can give. Being a Christian never meant I am always true, right or full of valor. It means I believe Christ is always true and always righteous, tied together in beautiful mercy.