I used to clean houses part time so I got to spend quite a bit of time with toilets and I can guarantee you that I’ve seen them in just about every level of dirtiness. I do not particularly want to go into detail on this (partly to spare y’all and partly because I would like to enjoy my meal) but just know that things can get pretty scary out there especially when the client does not own a toilet scrub brush. Yes, this means I think of my happy place, snap on the gloves and dive right into the porcelain throne. It doesn’t matter how dirty things get, or how many times it gets soiled in a week, or how hard the client attempts to keep the toilet clean with an in-bowl cleaner (they’re gross, people. Don’t do them) I go in every week to give that bowl a good cleaning.
Now, you’ve probably read about toilets a little more than you’d like to at this point so allow me to digress to the beautiful, redemptive grace of God. Many believers are reminded of God’s grace as they clean the same thing repeatedly, but something specific struck me the other day as I swished my toilet wand around the water. I realized that no matter how dirty or clean a toilet is, I always go at it with the same tools, cleaner and technique. Sometimes it requires a little extra elbow grease, but overall it’s the same process…inside-outside-top-to-bottom.
Isn’t God’s grace the same way?
No matter how dirty, or “great” our sin may seem to fellow man, God goes at us with the same cleansing grace starting with the inside and working outward. He doesn’t have a special bottle of “extra heavy duty, sin removing grace” reserved for specific people. That “extra heavy duty, sin removing grace” is for ALL of us. Now, some of us may live a life that has more opportunities for God to bestow grace, but it is still grace that is beyond myself and this world. As a believer I receive the same grace for my sin of complacency during my walk with the Lord that the believer who once allowed sex, drugs, and money to guide their choices in life receives. Our human level of regret may be on different levels as well as the consequences that we experiences, but God still applies the same grace to our lives. There is a large focus on “salvation being for everyone” which I believe to be true, but how quickly we lose that focus on grace when we begin sharing testimonies. All of sudden believers begin “rating” each other and putting others on pedestals based off of the “severity” of their testimony. While it should be celebrated how God pulled His children out of the bonds of their sinful lives, we need to be mindful to acknowledge that He pulled ALL of His children out of their sinful lives with the same grace. So often I think “Well, my testimony is nothing like their’s…have I ever really experienced grace? They’re going to think “this or that” about me…” because I focused on what I had DONE and not the fact that it is by God’s grace that I am who I am.
I suddenly wanted to make my testimony more than it was…what?!? The grace that God gave me thus far in life wasn’t “enough??”
When did sharing testimonies become a game of comparison and not one of celebration?
Some people were saved from horror upon horror, others were saved from Sunday School and others were saved from themselves, but we are all saved by the same grace. Even once we have secured salvation in God, we constantly receive grace and go through sanctification.
There is no need to down play anyone’s testimony, but there is also no reason to put someone on a pedestal based on their testimony. Celebrate! Acknowledge the beauty from ashes! But be careful to not bring the ugly, joy stealing comparison game to such a time. The girl who grew up in church, accepted Christ at a young age, but has struggled with secret sexual sin while still walking with the Lord receives that same grace as the girl who grew up in an abusive home, had to raise her younger sibling, came to know the Lord in high school, didn’t follow Him through college, got into the party scene, had a near death experience, hit rock bottom and realized that God was the only one who could get her up. That believer who is fighting depression and anxiety through grace needs to be celebrated just like the believer who is fighting financial debt through the grace of God. All of it is sin that separates us from God. None of it can be removed without God’s grace. A friend of mine has a “drastic” testimony that involved drugs, partying, and playing around with other religions, but he was intentional to not just include that aspect of his life in his testimony. He went further back into middle school and high school when he recognized that his self-righteousness and pride took him away from the Gospel even as he was faithfully attending to church and “on fire for Jesus.” He didn’t dismiss the fact that God’s grace had saved him from a life of destruction that included not only partying and hard consequences, but also the burden and sin of self-righteousness. When we “rank” and compare the sin in our lives, we are essentially ranking and comparing the beautiful grace of God.
So, the next time you find yourself in a “testimony sharing” opportunity remember that we are all dirty toilets that get washed with the same grace filled brush every day. .
Celebrate the grace, don’t compare the sin.
John 1:16 “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.”