There is a Mountain
devotional by Caroline Cobb
Read: Isaiah 25:6-9, Isaiah 55:1-2
Do you ever ask yourself... Am I doing ok as a parent? Am I a good enough daughter, son, friend? A successful enough worker? A good enough Christian?
When presented with these questions, many of us will try to justify ourselves, to convince ourselves that we make the grade. And the world around us is all too happy to help us out, rife with voices opining about what is “good enough” and what falls short. If we’re honest, many of us are always striving to meet that “good enough” standard in our various roles and relationships. We are always measuring ourselves, against others or against our own standards.
And it’s really tiring, isn’t it?
It’s especially discouraging when we fall obviously short: when we lose our temper with our kids, fail at work, struggle with the same sins again and again, or disappoint people. We often respond by either trying harder, excusing our sins, or giving up altogether.
Tim Keller, speaking on this point in The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, compares life to a courtroom in which are all looking for a “good enough” verdict. Our sense of identity and worth hinges on our performance, on our ability to meet the standards of the courtroom. In almost every context in our life, performance comes first. And only then, if we perform up to a certain standard, we are accepted and loved. But God, through Jesus’s death and resurrection, flips this whole “performance” paradigm on its head!
Keller goes on to say that it is “only in the gospel of Jesus Christ that you get the verdict before the performance." Jesus met the standards of a holy God, standards we could not possibly meet (Romans 3:23). And His righteousness, or His perfect performance, is then counted as our righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Judge declares that there is no condemnation if we are in Christ (Rom 8:1)! So, through Christ, we are free from trying to be “good enough” because the verdict is already in! The court is adjourned! Isn’t this good news?
Over and over in scripture, this gospel verdict is called a free gift. And what can we do when given this gift? We can only receive it and respond. We respond to the Giver with humility, with gratitude, with worship, with loving obedience, with trust. And we dare not boast in our own performance! We boast in Christ’s performance alone. We boast in His work on the cross. And we keep running to it again and again.
While the world’s economy rewards those who trust their own goodness, God’s economy of grace rewards those who recognize their spiritual poverty. God honors the poor in spirit, the spiritual beggars with open hands, acknowledging their need for salvation. He invites the hungry, the thirsty, and the one without money to His feast, saying “come, buy wine and milk without money and without price (Isaiah 55:1).”
Only those who realize their brokenness rejoice when He comes to bind the brokenhearted. Only those who realize their captivity rejoice when the prison door swings open.
When we come to Mount Zion at the end of the age (Rev 14:21) - to the feast of richest food and well-aged wine, the place where death will be swallowed up forever (Isaiah 25) - we will come without any pretense that we climbed our way to the top through our performance. This is a mountain that only those who acknowledge their lameness can climb. This is a feast that only those who realize their hunger can find. The self-righteous who flash their performance or achievements at God in order to get in the door will be turned away, but the ones who come empty-handed, with the gospel as their only true hope, will be welcomed in with joy. And what a feast it will be!
1. In which areas are you are overly concerned with a “good enough” verdict? Where are you failing? How does the gospel of Christ speak into this?
2. Read Isaiah 55:1-2, Ephesians 2:8-10, and Romans 3:23-24. Write a prayer of worship and thanksgiving for the free gift of grace through Christ.