I don’t usually talk about my accomplishments very much but there are some things I’ve done in my life that I am proud of. I’m proud to have earned two degrees, one a B.A. in Music Composition and the other a Master of Divinity in Church Music. I’m proud to have played Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Southern Seminary Orchestra…from memory (I’ve never been more nervous than before that performance)! I’m proud to have written and arranged a good deal of music. I’m proud to have four wonderful boys and a wonderful wife. I’m proud to live in America. I’m proud to be serving in a wonderful church that has a 200 year old heritage. There are things I am proud of.
But there also some things I’m not proud of. I’m not proud of failing my senior year of high school. Oops (I did graduate the following year). I’m not proud of the time I tried to run away from home. I’m not proud of once thinking abortion was ok. I’m not proud of lying to my parents. I’m not proud of yelling at my kids. I’m not proud of treating my wife in unloving ways. I’m not proud of all the ways I’ve hurt other people and God by the things I’ve done or not done.
I have pride and guilt in my life, accomplishments and regrets. When I rest in my accomplishments I feel good. When I remember and meditate on my sins and mistakes I feel sad. I can do the same thing with God. I have served Him for about 19 years now in churches and sometimes, when I think about my accomplishments, I can feel pretty good about my relationship with God. But when I think over those years about the sins I’ve committed or the apathetic way I have lived my life sometimes I can feel ashamed and God feels far away. Both of these views though, self-righteous pride and depressing guilt, do not in any way determine my relationship with God.
I will never be good enough to ever earn His love and favor and I will never be bad enough to lose them. The only thing that matters in my relationship with God and determines my standing with Him is Jesus Christ. Now, pride in accomplishments or pride in a job well done is ok but self-righteous pride that counts me worthy for eternal life and discounts the perfect life that Christ lived in my behalf, so that I could be right before God, is sinful. And guilt can be useful, telling me something is wrong in my life, and can give me the kick in the pants to make things right but wallowing in guilt only discounts the death Christ died on the cross to reconcile me to God and is also sinful.
I have things I am proud of but I am learning to “count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). And I have regrets but I need to remember that “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). This is what it means to rest in Christ. Resting in His accomplishments and resting in His punishment for our guilt. What are you proud of? What are your regrets? May they all “grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”.