I think if we are honest there are times in our relationship with Jesus where we are discouraged because we see a lack of renewal and transformation. We are confident of our faith in Jesus’ work on the cross. We have experienced renewal and transformation in the past, but there are times we can get discouraged because we don’t see a pattern of power and restoration in our personal lives.
We see the same patterns, same sins, same habits, same struggles, and we start thinking, “Maybe it is always going to be like this?” Maybe it will never change? Maybe Jesus works for these other people, but for some reason He doesn’t work in my life and we can get discouraged. In our lowest moments we might even think, “God isn’t strong enough to do anything, God doesn’t care to do anything, or maybe God isn’t even real.”
When we find ourselves wrestling with these questions we would do well to turn our hearts toward Scripture. There is a phrase in Ephesians where the Apostle Paul describes Himself as the “Very least of all saints.” It is an interesting phrase because on one hand he is describing himself as a “Saint.” It is a title for all followers of Christ who trust in Jesus’ work on the cross. It means through faith in Jesus work on the cross we are all clothed in His righteousness and positionally we are permanently established as “Saints.”
However, in the Scriptures he was describing himself as the “Very Least” because he sees the wickedness of his sin. He sees the pride in his heart. He sees the death and destruction. In 1 Corinthians he describes himself as the “Least of the apostles.” In 1 Timothy he describes himself as the “Chief of all sinners.”
At first glance it looks like this guy really needs a hug. However, as we grow in our relationship with Jesus, our understanding of Scripture, our love and affection for others it is going to naturally lead to an awareness to a greater depth of our sin. As we turn our heart and lives toward His glory it is going to shed His light into the dark places of our heart.
I think what happens for many of us is when we see the depth of our darkness we forget about the height of His glory. We see our brokenness and it feels horrible. We end up isolating ourselves from others. We end up bringing condemnation upon ourselves. We cover ourselves in shame.
We forget Jesus already knows about our brokenness. We push back and say, “Yeah, but I should be further along by now.” I shouldn’t have these struggles. But we forget He knows, He knew, and He still pursues relationship with us. It isn’t because these are just polite sentimental thoughts about Jesus. Scripture teaches us He has purchased us so that our life is no longer our own, but we belong to Him. All of our scrapes, bruises, faults, flaw, and darkness belong to Him. He isn’t shocked. He isn’t looking to trade us in, upgrade, or exchange. We are His.