I’m sorry. I’ll try better next time. I’ll be good. Good! You looks like doing the right thing.
As a teacher in a busy, inner city state school, these are some of the familiar phrases I heard on an almost daily basis.
There is one particular student who always says the right thing, but never backs words with action.
We’ve talked time and time again of what happened, what the “right thing” looks like, and how to do it. But time and time again, we find he’s done the exact opposite and gotten himself into trouble again.
It’s frustrating. More than frustrating – it’s infuriating. He’s tested my patience, of which there wasn’t much to begin with, to the limit. Quite often, I find myself clenching my hands and pressing my mouth together in order not to do or say anything I’ll later regret. Not only is his behavior poor, but I also hate his smug attitude and attention- seeking. With traditional parents like mine, I’ve wished more than once to have a tang tiu in my hands.
I always try to pray in the morning on the way to work. I dedicate my day to the Lord and ask Him to guide me through the day. More often, these days, I find myself repenting for my sins. In the past years, I’ve felt my relationship with God strain more than I knew was possible – to believe in Him and still call myself a Christian, yet feel so far away, and at the same time know He has never left me, nor forsaken me (Deuteronomy 31:6).
How many times have you found yourself saying variations of those words?
I’m sorry God, I repent of my sins. Help me to do better. I want to be close to you.
How many times have you fallen back on your old patterns of sins and failed again?
This is how I found myself that dark and rainy morning, repeating the same phrases I’d said the day before, asking for forgiveness and help – just like that student.
And suddenly, horribly, the irony struck me in the face. What a hypocrite! As much as I wanted to punish the student, I have to give him a fresh start every day, sometimes every hour. And for that, I need to look at the example of God’s grace (John 5:19) because I know in my own life, I’ve needed that grace too.
The Bible tells us that God is slow to anger and rich in love (Exodus 34:6). We already knew that God had a plan for a New Covenant for us from the beginning – the blood of His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice to pay, and overpay for the price of our sins that we might have freedom (Galatians 5:1) from sin and death (Roman 6:23). We should throw John 3:16 in there for good measure.
Many of us would look to the parable of “The Prodigal Son” to examine God’s grace, and indeed, He is that Abba (intimately) our Father, but also El Shaddai, the Almighty God with power over sin and death and to forgive our sins. God’s grace has covered you, since before you were born, He was already prepared to forgive us (Lamentations 3:22-23).
If you want to know more about God’s grace, read the New Testament (NT) to start with. There’s plenty throughout the Bible, but the NT explains it from a New Covenant perspective – that is, the grace we are living in now.
I’ll end with directing you to read 1 John 3:6 – don’t take God’s grace for granted.