I like to know what is expected, when I don’t, I feel lost.
Meeting and exceeding expectations are my specialty. Disappointing people is not a favorite pastime.
Modern Marthas don’t usually blow things off. They are conscientious and aim to please. We get A’s for effort, not E’s. We work to excel. We strive for perfection. We run as to win the prize. Even if we don’t get gold stars or gold medals, it isn’t for a lack of trying to offer our best.
If someone told me that all my efforts were in vain, I think I might cry (or get ticked, or be tempted to give up…depending on my mood or time of the month). Daily, my brain works overtime, trying to solve problems, tackle schedules, and successfully manage all that is on my plate.
The Army slogan, “Be all that you can be,” was a favorite of mine, and I lived it. Until, I tried so hard to be all and do all that I set myself up for failure. I kept trying to be an acceptable sacrifice. The problem was, I was trying to purify and holy-ify myself to be pleasing in God’s sight and the eyes of most everyone else too.
The Levitical priests repeatedly offered up sacrifices to cleanse sins. But the sacrifices could never take away sins permanently. The Greek word for “never” in Hebrews 10:11 is oudepote. And it means “not at any time, never at all, nothing at any time.” Nada!
Their sacrifices only temporarily covered sins, which is why they had to daily, time after time, again and again offer up a sacrifice to purify the unworthy people.
I can’t help but think the priests’ work was tiring and tedious. Did they mutter, “Here we go again, making atonement for this sinful lot”? I’m sure it was a great honor to serve in the tabernacle, but it had to get old—kind of like I feel about cleaning my kitchen. Just when I get done sweeping, it’s messy again. Shortly after the dishwasher is loaded, the sink is full of dirty dishes again.
Maybe, that’s why I enjoy writing? I can finish an article and it stays nice and tidy, in its place. It might take hours to get it how I like it, but once I do, it remains “as is”—not so with my galley kitchen and bustling household. The work gets done and then undone and then needs to be redone, in a tiring rinse, wash, and repeat cycle.
Yes, it’s an honor to serve my family and steward our home, but redoing the same thing, day after day, can be discouraging.
What if a reputable cleaning person came to you and said, “I will completely clean your home on Friday. It will be very costly, but after I complete it once, you will never have to do it again. And by the way, I will pay for it because you don’t have enough to pay for it yourself. All you have to do is believe that I am able to clean it and receive it as a gift.”
Where do I sign up?! I’ve always wanted someone to gift me with a complete house cleaning. My family often helps me do it, but to have outside help responsible for it? And for it to be done once and for all, never to be repeated? Why, that would be downright divine!
Housework aside, I try to cleanse my sins through good behavior. But my efforts can never—oudepote (not at any time, never at all)—take away sins! It’s impossible for the blood of bulls, goats, and sinful humans like me to remove sin permanently.
It’s like I’m a modern-day Levitical priest, stuck in a pattern of performing religious duties in an effort to be made clean. But it is a futile effort because it is no longer necessary.
The Old Testament priests offered sacrifices continually, until the Lamb of God was slain on behalf of the sins of the world. Jesus became the perfect sacrifice, so there was no reason for the priests (or us) to repeatedly offer up sacrifices for sins any longer.
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” -Hebrews 10:1-4, NIV
Jesus paid to clean your heart. It was messy and very costly, but He completed the work on a Friday thousands of years ago, and it never has to be done again. He paid your ransom with His blood.
All you have to do is believe that Jesus has done what He said He did and receive His salvation as a gift. No more religious duties needed to obtain that which is already yours in Christ!
But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” –Hebrews 10:12-14, NIV
As Easter approaches, let’s remember that if we are in Christ, our soul has already been cleansed; purified, white and clean, by the spilled blood of the Lamb, who takes away our sins. Permanently.
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