Grace for the Sinner

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Cor 4:7

A few months ago I naively believed that once I was married and I no longer struggled with the temptations many single Christians face, that I would have somehow “arrived” in my faith. It would be so much easier to be a Christian if I didn’t actually have sin in my life, and marriage seemed to be the ticket to freedom. Some of you, who are wiser than I, might be shaking your head with a compassionate smile on your face right now.

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To my shock, marriage did not make me sinless. In fact, God woke me up to other sins and struggles, like pride, that I never noticed and now had to deal with, which left me with this big question: Can I serve God while struggling with sin? Now, obviously, the Sunday school answer to this is yes, that we are all sinners and God has still called us to serve Him. But this isn’t a question I struggle with in my head; it’s a question I wrestle with in my soul and with my emotions.

The most beautiful, and illogical part of grace is not being able to earn or deserve it, but sometimes I fool myself thinking that I am more lovely, pleasing, and beloved by God when I am doing the right thing. Conversely, I feel like God must be ashamed and disappointed in me when I am messing up, and so I run and hide to cover my shame. And since I am a daily sinner, I tend to approach God like a father I am expecting wrath and punishment from rather than love and joy. How could I be of any use to a perfect God when I fail over and over again? How can I stand up as an example of Christianity when my sin is in direct opposition to everything Christ taught?

When I get to feeling sorry for myself like that, when I get to feeling useless and helpless and tired of trying, God very tenderly reminds me that I have made Him small. My worry is that my sin is too consistent or too big for God to forgive. How incredibly prideful to think that anything I do could in some way limit our infinite and sovereign Lord! How selfish to focus on my sin and how ashamed I feel rather than seeing the hurts and needs of others!

I am a sinner and always will be. I am an earthen vessel, a cracked and ugly jar of clay. I will never “arrive” (and the moment I think I do is when I need God most). These may be my limitations, but I am wrong when I believe these are God’s limitations. God uses the weak, the downtrodden, the sinners so that we would not be made big, but so that others may be awed by the “surpassing power” and glory of God and praise only His name. God used prostitutes, murderers, and doubters to bring about the Gospel. God does not require us to be sinless to be used by Him; God requires us to have faith that our sins have been paid for by the blood of His Son and that now we are made right before Him—believing in our place as His sons and daughters.

I am a teacher, a wife, and a friend—and alone I am not good at these roles. I am too selfish, prideful, and insecure. I doubt myself constantly. But when I recognize that I cannot accomplish what God has asked me to do on my own, and I call on Him with all the faith I can muster, I can believe that God will bring glory to Himself through a willing, albeit sinful, servant.

LOVE, Brittany Strosnider

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