James A. Washington

They say no one can ever lead a perfect life. Flaws, faults and mistakes are the unavoidable consequences of being human. God lets us know through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that how we handle our imperfections is about as important as acknowledging that we do indeed have them.

Humility is an essential ingredient of any Christian’s makeup, or at least it should be, given our understanding of personal imperfection. A humble person would never look down upon or somehow rationalize the thought that he or she is better than someone else. The reason must be their personal recognition of that old saying “there but for the grace of God go I.”

Throughout the Bible there are countless references to living a life devoid of ego and pride. According to Paul, humility is a prerequisite for the presence of the Holy Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Galatians 5:22-26. 

Conditioning yourself to live humbly is pretty difficult, particularly nowadays. We live in a world that measures the substance of a person by the accumulation of money, things, position and status, even if we think it’s unwarranted. To obtain a humble state of mind as a matter of course can seem impossible, but in order to live according to the word of God, it is mandatory. “For whoever exalted himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12.

I think this is the reason Christ said, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” The real meaning behind this is once you do it, then real forgiveness must follow.  Who would dare be arrogant enough not to humble himself in the eyes of God by not forgiving his fellow man’s transgressions? 

That brings me to the role of the church. If there was ever a place where the concept of forgiveness is guaranteed, it’s the church. There is no perfect church or perfect pastor. The key to all of this is what happens after you fall, after you sin, after you backslide.

Remember that falling and failing is inevitable. Getting up is not. As long as you ask the Holy Spirit for a helping hand, I’m told all can be forgiven.

I’ve got to believe God is a God of another chance because I’ve blown so many chances myself. I’ve ruined so many opportunities and yet so many blessings still come my way. The least I can do is to show up in church on Sunday to let others know this is a place to come and bring an imperfect life in search of the perfect truth. Flaws and all, God loves me and every now and then that’s something I need to be reminded of. Church is probably the best and one of the only places where that can happen.

The challenge is to remember you can never feel comfortable about casting that first stone.

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