Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Tell Me The Old Old Story"1 (Lyrics)
I have an interesting application on my cell phone that tracks my driving habits. It's for my insurance company, which sold me on it by saying that it could save me "up to 25 percent" on my vehicle insurance, which would be really neat! As they explained it, if I'm a good, conscientious driver, then I will have high scores for my trips, and after a year, they will adjust my insurance rates accordingly.
Scoring is in four categories: time of day, distance travelled, speed, and smoothness. If I drive at high-risk times of day (such as rush hour), my score will be lower for that trip. If I drive a long distance, the proportional risk of damaging my vehicle apparently goes up, so my score goes down. If I go faster than the speed limit, again, the result is a lower score. And if I'm a herky-jerky driver, always stomping on the gas or the brake … well, you know where this is going!
Truth be told, when I have the app operating, I do adjust my driving style. I am more conscious of when I need to step on the brake for a smooth stop, and a slower pace means that I'm less danger to other drivers around me. However, I have never received a score of 100 on a drive. I've had as high as 98 for a trip to the grocery store, but never 100.
Why not? Well, where I live, there are several hills where, for whatever reason, the speed limit tends to be lower on the down slopes. If I'm not riding the brake, I'm above the limit, and ding! goes my score. If I ride my brake too much, the car jerks, and ding! goes my score. Certain yellow lights are short in my town, and if they catch me at cruising speed (especially the one going out of town), I have to either commit (and usually speed up) or stomp on the brake. Which ding would I like? If I have to cross traffic with a left turn, I wait for an opening, then zip in, and I get a ding for fast acceleration and a sharp turn.
As for my wife, who uses a few kilometres of a freeway at rush hour to get to and from work, her score melts away like snow in July!
We just can't help "sinning" against the app's requirements. We will never get the full twenty-five-percent saving. We will get something, but not all that is potentially available to us!
I thought about this when I recently read this verse:
Matthew 5:20 – For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (NIV)
Jesus is saying that these men spend the whole of their lives, every waking hour (and many with things in place for while they sleep), trying to adhere to the law of Moses, and still their righteousness is not enough to get them into heaven. To earn your way in on your own merits, you'd have to be even better/more righteous than they are! In other words, adjust your way of living all you want, but you still can't make it on your own.
Romans 3:23 has this condemnation: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 6:23 starts the same way: "For the wages of sin is death…". As sinners, we can't make it. We can't do it. We'll never be good enough. But Paul goes on to say, "… but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Salvation isn't something that we earn through how we behave; it's something that we're given through Jesus — through His cross and open tomb!
As long as we try to "adjust" ourselves, we will never be perfect. If we surrender ourselves to Christ, however, we will be made perfect in His eyes and through His touch, and the reward is simply out of this world! Join me in praying:
Prayer: Lord, I do want to be more like the vision that You have for me, but I know that I can't make it happen on my own. It's not up to me; it's up to You. Adjust me to what I must become in Your eyes, and help me to find peace and contentment in that surrender. Amen.