Lent FLOW March 21
“Go then, eat your bread in happiness, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved of your works.” Ecclesiastes 9:7
"Already approved of my works?! Doesn’t God know what a sinner I am? There is NO way He can approve of my works! Maybe in a few years, once this thing gets handled. I am just not doing it well enough yet; once I get some of this stuff cleaned up, thennnn God will approve and I can be happy, and enjoy my life.”
The first time I saw this passage, that was my response. In fact, I went back and read the entire chapter to make sure that I hadn’t just taken it out of context; I was checking to see if the passage said once I had ‘The Fruit’ or the ‘Be Attitudes’ or the ‘Love your Neighbor’, THEN God would approve; as if I had missed what it was contingent upon.
Ephesians 1:7 - “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”\
How in the WORLD can God approve of my works? How is that possible? Because He is the great forgiver. Are we going to be perfect, no, but in HIM we are redeemed. In HIM we have redemption, by faith we are free! The mindset that we must struggle to please God is a thing of the past! 1 Timothy 6:17b - “but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” He WANTS us to enjoy our lives!
I find that the times I am unable to enjoy life, or to see that God approves of my works, are the times when I am holding on to an area where I haven’t measured up, where I have failed, or where I haven’t met the mark. Sometimes it’s looking forward. How do I enjoy a new job if I am so worried that I am not going to do well? How do we enjoy being parents if we are constantly in fear of failing and messing our kids up? How can God possibly approve if I can’t ever seem to get it together? If only I was better about sharing my faith, then I would be doing what God wants.
This, it's right here in Psalms 32:5 “You forgave the iniquity of my sin, Selah.” – I really struggle with forgiving myself. The Bible tells me all over that God forgives me, and that I am to forgive my neighbors, but I don’t want to forgive myself; which really, if I am brutally honest, is where my sin is. How is it that Jesus can go to the cross and die for the forgiveness of my sins, but I won’t let them go? I am much more comfortable holding on to everything I haven’t done or haven’t done correctly. It gives me permission to not believe that I am who God says I am; therefore, I don’t have to live out His calling on my life.
Ecclesiastes 8:15 says, “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” God wants us to enjoy our lives, because when we toil we can take that enjoyment with us into the dark moments. Not only is that a blessing for us, but even more glorious is the reflection of Hope that we are for the people around us - what a testimony to the power of the forgiving grace of our Savior! So, go, forgive yourself as God has forgiven you and live like Ecclesiastes 9:9 says, “Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given you under the sun.”
Prayer: What a gift it is, Lord, that you designed life for us to enjoy. Please forgive us for the ways that we hide and give ourselves permission not to be who you called us to be, because we are dragging our sins around with us. Please Lord, from the top to the bottom, from the front to the back, for everything that happened, and everything that didn’t happen, allow me to forgive myself for all of all of it and anything in between; just like you have done for me. Thank you that through your redemption we are free!