Have you ever noticed how fragile human emotions are? With one word, even one bad look, you can go from feeling on top of the world to the scum of the earth. Hero to zero. Top to flop. Stud to dud. Superman to “loser man.”…you get the picture. This world is filled with extremes. The brokenness of our human nature wants us to slide all the way in one direction or the other. Our emotional tug of war will not quit until one side has been defeated. We are constantly being pulled across the middle line.
However, when we take a step back, it’s easy to see the detriment in this. Both extremes are wrong. When one side wins, the results are catastrophic — extreme depression or extreme vanity. The Enemy waits at either side of the tug of war. Satan appears to have a win-win situation. Either way, you lose.
…Unless you can stay in the middle.
…Unless you can remain steadfast.
Humbled by Sinfulness
The Bible says in Romans 3:23 (among other places) that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We are sinners. Even our good works are like dirty rags to God (Is. 64:6). Nothing that we do can earn salvation. We are spiritually dead (Col. 2:13) – utterly helpless.
While this may sound harsh, it is one of the greatest truths of scripture. It means that we are all equal before God. Nobody is better than anyone else. Everyone is lumped into one category: sinner. The beauty of this is that it prevents us from ever thinking too highly of ourselves. No one can boast (Eph. 2:9). If we truly understand the depths of our own sinfulness, we will never become self-righteous. Our emotional highs and prideful actions will never turn to vanity. Remembering our sinfulness will pull the tug of war rope towards humility.
Confident in Salvation
If we are truly as sinful as the Bible tells us we are, how can we prevent the opposite extreme? How do we stop despair from taking hold? The answer is that God has granted us salvation through Jesus Christ in spite of our sinfulness. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). God loved us enough to do that. Jesus’ righteousness has been imputed to us. We are now seen as spotless and blameless in His eyes. He calls us friends of God (Jn 15:15) – children of God (Gal. 3:26).
How can we possibly think so low of ourselves if God thinks so highly of us? If He sets us free, we are free indeed (Jn. 8:36). Whatever the Creator does and says to the created is reality. He has declared us righteous (Rom. 5:1). We did nothing to earn it, but God saved us anyway. Although the weight of sin wants to pull the rope to hopelessness, the salvation that has been given to us pulls it strongly back the other way.
The Middle Ground
While the Enemy thought that our emotional tug of war would surely win, God’s grace has conquered all. Christ’s cross is like a stake that has permanently pinned the rope on middle ground. No matter what the situation, we can remain grounded in the truthfulness of God’s word and the perfection of the gospel message. The sinfulness of humanity and the righteousness of God met each other at the cross. Jesus’ outstretched arms had a hand in both. Wrath and mercy collided and what we received was grace. We are still sinners, but are freed from death’s chains. The gospel prevents both despair and arrogance. There is not a more perfect solution to the extremes that we face in this life. Yes, human emotions are fragile, but thank goodness we have a God who holds us together.
“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” – Ephesians 2:4-5
Wrath and mercy collided and what we received was grace.