“When he comes, he’ll expose the error of the godless world’s view of sin, righteousness, and judgment: He’ll show them that their refusal to believe in me is their basic sin; that righteousness comes from above, where I am with the Father, out of their sight and control.”
– John 16:8–10 MSG
Like many college students, when I got started, I didn’t think about God at all. I was raised in church, sure, but during my college years, worldly pursuits were far more interesting than religious ones. Away from home, I put my feet on holy ground just twice in four years.
In my final semester, I had to take a class I’d put off. There were only six people in it. I went to class faithfully until the last six weeks when senioritis hit. I knew when the final paper was due, so I skipped the last two weeks of class. Blissful in my ignorance, the professor moved up the due date of the final paper. I found this out, walking across campus one day, when I ran into a classmate. She informed me they’d just finished their final paper presentations that hour! I knew I was in trouble. If I didn’t pass this class, I wouldn’t graduate in two weeks, and then perhaps be found beaten senseless at the hands of my mother. But the worst part was I hadn’t even started to write the paper!
I mustered up all the courage I had, greatly motivated by the fear of having to tell my parents. I went to the professor’s office and threw myself on his mercy. He didn’t let me get more than ten words out before he stopped me. I knew my doom was imminent. He asked me, “Do you know why I had a class to teach this semester? I had a class and a job because a graduating senior, that means you, registered for it. Don’t bother about the paper. Go. Graduate and start your life. It’s my graduation present to you. Don’t come back, just go.” He wanted nothing in return. So, I graduated and started my life. It would be nearly ten years before I could name what that experience was about: God’s grace.
That professor saved me from my parents’ wrath, but the grace of God in Jesus Christ saved me from so much more than that. The Holy Spirit is constantly teaching me what receiving true grace brings: a desire for righteousness. Righteousness has nothing to do with me or my efforts. As Jesus says in this verse, it comes from above—out of my sight, and far beyond my understanding and possible control. Grace is the product of the love and mercy of God, while righteousness is remaining in His grace.
As the Lord determined to save me, He also determined the Holy Spirit would be with me. For a start, He reminds me what sin is: a refusal to believe in Christ and believe only in myself. Before Christ, I deserved judgment, just like I deserved to fail that class. Yet, in His mercy, He stayed His hand of judgment. He chose redemption instead. The Holy Spirit waited for me. He pursued me. He acted for me, even when I had nothing to give in return. So, I focus on staying with Him, abiding in His love, and reveling in mercy. That’s the best and only way I’ve found to right living, to experiencing the righteousness in Christ. The Holy Spirit, the embodiment of mercy, opens the door and His love keeps us moving with Him, made able to stay in a state of grace. I love Him because He saved me, but I also love Him because He is so lovable. And He made me whole, able to keep believing, and faithful.
Come, Holy Spirit, and pour out Your open door of mercy and righteousness on my mind, heart, and soul. Enable me to rest in You. Make me laser-focused on what You give and what You have done for me. Let me trust You more and be more faithful to Your Word and will. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Write down a time when you experienced the saving hand of God’s grace on your life and share it with someone this week.
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