For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from your selves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
Imagine this: the doorbell rings and you rush down the stairs half-dressed, shouting “just a minute” as you frantically finish gathering the dishes that have been sitting out for days, rearranging piles of junk mail, and quickly folding a blanket on the back of your couch to hide that you’ve been snuggled up there most days this week. All the while buttoning your jeans, fluffing your hair, swishing some mouthwash and lighting a candle. There’s more you could do, but your friend has been waiting long enough. With a final look in the hall mirror, you kick the pile of shoes by the door into a somewhat neater pile and unlock the deadbolt to let her in.
The truth is, your friend’s place was just as messy and the likelihood of her judging you was pretty slim. However, as women, we have a tendency to leave people waiting, standing out on the porch, until we can present our best selves.
This is all a part of our quest for acceptance. Whether it’s our home, our physical appearance, or our performance, we allow the fear of judgment to dictate when we let others in. And our relationship with God is no exception.
So often we believe we must cover up all our dirty spots, rehearse every line, and get each flyaway hair perfectly pinned back before we can approach God. We believe, “I can’t pray to God this week - not after what I’ve done. Next week, when I’ve read my Bible more and have been a better person, then I’ll talk to God.”
Over 2000 years ago, this would have been true. Any time a person sinned, or broke God’s law of the Ten Commandments, they were required to present a sacrifice. This was a complicated and very specific process. Even then, only the high priests could go into the Holiest of Holies (the innermost place of the ancient tabernacle where the Spirit of God was) to be in God’s presence. We were in fact too dirty, too sinful, too messy.
But it is now 2017 and Jesus made a way for even the lowest of sinners to stand before the Father, brokenness and all. We could bring no sacrifice pure enough to redeem us from the lineage of sin we came from, but God wanted our hearts, so He made a way by sacrificing His one and only son (John 3:16). Jesus was punished as a sinner, so that God could judge us as pure and perfect. When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice, we become clothed in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10) and that is what God sees when He looks at us now.
Proverbs 31 Ministries author, Sharon Jaynes, describes us as “pre-approved” by God. Just like credit card advertisements that tell us we are already approved, all we have to do is open the envelope and say “Yes. I’m in.” He decided to accept us long before we were born. Unlike girlfriends, parents, bosses, and teachers, we don’t have to earn God’s favor. There’s no background check or application.
All we have to do is accept His approval and start living in His love.
Next time you are tempted to clean up your act before spending time with God, remember that your approval is in HIS hands. And He has accepted you - dirty dishes, messy hair, stress, worries, mistakes, and all, and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you more OR less because “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from your selves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
1. How have you found yourself approaching God lately?
2. What does it grace mean to you?
3. What might it look like for you to live in the confidence that you are "pre-approved" in Jesus?
Father, thank You for accepting me before I was even born. You see all the good and bad I am capable of, yet You still love me. Allow me to trust that Your grace is enough for me. Remind me that there is no need to hide my face in shame, like Eve in the garden, anymore. I want to accept Your approval and live in Your love.