Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny
For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another. But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.” Titus 3.3-7
Can you identify yourself in the first verse of our reading? If we are honest, I dare say that we can all find a word that has described us in the past. The force of the dark power was strong in many of us. What changed?
The kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind brought about a change. God took the initiative. He saved us, not because of any thing righteous that we have done. He saved us because he is merciful.
How is his mercy applied? His mercy is applied through the washing of the new birth which is a reference to baptism, John 3.3-5. Peter tells his audience in Acts 2.38 that upon our baptism, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul tells Titus that God poured out his Spirit in full measure through Jesus Christ. God is generous towards us.
There is nothing I can do to stand justified before God on my own merit. It is because of his grace that I can stand before him. Not only this, but I stand with confidence knowing that I am his child.