Tonight I worked on balancing our checkbook (which seems to be a highly complicated system that seldom seems to come out right the first time). We started a fresh ledger for 2011 in Microsoft Outlook. This is the first balancing of the new entries. It should be simple. There are few entries. It should all come together and balance nicely. Except, of course, that it's not. And I can't find any glaring reason why it's not. So I'm taking a break to write.
I'm realizing that I sometimes view my life as a ledger. I know I'm not supposed to, but sometimes I put my sins in a column and compare them to my good deeds. Of course, each sin carries a lot more weight than a good deed, so I need to have a lot of good deeds to cancel out each sin. And then I add them out and hope I'm a "good person."
Here's the thing, though--and I often forget this, no matter how much I believe the veracity of it--the sins column doesn't matter. At least not for trying to balance things out. We can't balance things out. And that's not the point of Christianity anyway. It's the exact opposite of what Jesus intends for us.
Jesus wiped away (and continues to wipe away) everything in the sin column. It's gone. Erased. There's nothing there. But He doesn't pay attention to our good deeds column, either. Our actions, while important, aren't what God will weigh out to see if we're a good person or not. None of us are good enough--at least in the presence of a pure and holy God. We've all got some sin. And a little drop of sin taints the pool of purity. So none of us measure up. No matter how much good we've done--we're still not perfect.
But Jesus invites us to accept His love and forgiveness. He invites us to follow Him. He invites us to accept His Spirit to guide us in becoming more like Him. And that is what matters. The more we spend time with Him, the more we become like Him. The more we know His great love for us, the more we are able to love others (and do "good works"). And that's what matters to God: that we know Jesus and live out of love.
But I forget that. I try to measure my "goodness." I let my "badness" get me down. But I don't need to. I just need to focus on Jesus--not my ledger. That's all that matters.