One of the most beautiful displays of God’s extreme grace is the story of the thief on the cross next to Jesus that was promised Paradise.
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” – Luke 23:39
Jesus was literally dying for this man’s sin when He promised him salvation. Looking into the eyes of one of the vast causes of His suffering, He chose to save him. The thief could not hide himself or his past…it was displayed for all to see. But so was Grace.
There is one difference between us and the thief. We are not nailed to a cross. We are not short on time. We have an opportunity to do all we can to pursue His perfect will. To settle for just believing and not being changed by the Holy Spirit that He died to give us would be a travesty. To wait until we are faced with death to call upon Him would be a gamble. But to know at the end of your days that you gave your all, your everything for the sake of His name, His cause…would bring a smile to His face. To hear the words “Well done, good & faithful servant” would bring us to our knees.
He came to give us life, abundant life, not to just survive. He sent the Holy Spirit to teach us, direct us, convict us…so that we would become like Him. When we stand before God, our goal should be to stand in confidence. Once you invite Him in, He gives you strength and starts a work in you…but we must surrender fully, wholeheartedly for Him to work. May we remain open and obedient to Him in our every move so that there will be no reason to shy away from His gaze.
“For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:7
“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.” 1 John 2:28
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” – Hebrews 12:1