Finally!! The 10-pound bag of Halloween candy that was wreaking havoc on our home has been “donated” to a good cause (aka, destroying the sanity of another unsuspecting family in our church). To be honest, I was eating more candy than my kids, so it had to go. It was a bad-day-binge-session waiting to happen.
However, before I parted ways with the bag of refined sugar, I needed one more high (yes, I’ll be drinking a green smoothie after to make up for it). I tore into a bag of Skittles and was expecting to taste a bit of “rainbow” in my mouth but this wasn’t just any Skittle – it was a sour Skittle. SICK!!! I was repulsed. My jaw locked, eyes started to water and just as I was about to spit out the bitterness, I started to taste something . . . sweet. What a nice little surprise for my taste buds; hidden within the bitterness was a chewy sweetness. The rainbow tastes good! The entire bag was devoured. I was amazed at how sweet the Skittle tasted compared to the sour punch in the beginning.
Our sin is something like my snack of sour-Skittles.
As a Christian I will still sin, but why am I so surprised when I do? It always gives me an unexpected sucker punch to the gut.
In these cases, typically my shock is quickly turned to anger, because I am once again reminded of the painful and bitter reality that I am STILL a sinner. “God, if you are all-powerful, then why I am I still so messed up?” My poor kids are going to be so scarred because of me. If only they could have a good mother, I think to myself. My “imaginary goodness,” as Charles Spurgeon calls it, was merely setting me up for failure. I was definitely not “okay” with “not being okay.” So often I wear a mask pretending to have it all together, and at times even convincing myself that I really do have it all together, only to be abruptly reminded that I’d deceived myself once more.
I wanted to spit out this foul taste of bitterness in my mouth – that is, the admission that I’m still a sinner – so I did.
This day ended with me lying in the fetal position on the bed. Yet all I needed to do was to accept the bitter-sweet. Because I was refusing to accept the bitter, “yes, I am still a sinner,” I was not allowing my soul to taste the sweetness of His grace.
What good comes out of sin? How can God takes something bitter (my sin) and make it sweet?
1.) Sin reminds us that we are still . . . “not good.”
We don’t have it together; we are unfaithful; we love ourselves more than God and others. Sin is a big reminder that we can’t do it. We cannot be good enough, love enough, smile enough, serve enough – our very best will never be enough.
Although we may be in shock to find out that we are not “good,” Jesus is not remotely surprised. In fact, He died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). He died for our past, present and future sin. However, we must remind ourselves that as bitter as this sin may be, we do not have to drink the bitter cup of God’s wrath. Jesus drank that cup for us, and not one little drop of God’s wrath remains for His children. Sweet!
2.) When compared to the bitterness of my sin, GRACE is amazingly sweet.
When I think I am sweet in and of myself, I don’t get grace. But when I accept that I am a sinner, all of the sudden GRACE becomes incredibly SWEET! Grace becomes an unexpected and undeserved surprise. Much like the crazy flavor to follow extreme bitterness of the Skittles, it catches us off guard. Grace can uniquely catch us unaware, and yet there is no surprise in the world that can compare.
Truth be told, yesterday, I was feeling guilty because the Lord was opening up speaking opportunities at churches. I was thinking, “God, I know you don’t make many mistakes, but this seems fairly close.” I do not feel qualified to teach other women when I am so sinful! I do not feel worthy of this honor. God was pouring out His grace upon me and I was struggling to accept it. I like to know that if I do “A,” then I get “B” in return. However, grace gives regardless of how I perform (or don’t perform). When I deserve it least, it still comes. Don’t resist the sweetness; let it flow!
3.) My children get to see a mom who is totally messed up, and this is SWEET. Why? Because while on one hand they see their mother’s sin, at the same time they get to hear that God still loves their mommy. They are seeing the Gospel living out right in front of their eyes. Yes, they see their mommy sin, but they also get to hear their mom repent and ask for their forgiveness.
4.) Through the bitterness of sin we are experiencing the sweetness of grace. As the Puritan Thomas Watson said, “The glass is emptied first before you pour in the wine. God first empties a man of himself, before he pours in the precious wine of his grace.” Until we see how messed up we are (bitter), we will not taste His sweetness! Until we realize how messed up we are, we’ll never see how glorious Jesus Christ is. Until we see our own poverty, we’ll never see His riches. We’ll never put on a robe of Christ’s righteousness unless we realize that we are spiritually naked. Jesus Christ will never be beautiful to us until we realize how ugly we are without Him.
Grace is shocking, isn’t it? Unexpected sweetness