Pauline was 11 the first time she was caught stealing. At that point, the police officer just took her aside, gave her a warning, paid for the stolen goods, and drove her home. Somehow that warning wasn’t enough to stop Pauline. She was arrested a couple more times after that without facing serious consequences. Eventually in her late twenties, her bad habit finally caught up with her, and she landed a six-year prison sentence.
Have you ever done something you knew you were guilty of and in the end were found innocent? Usually in those circumstances you breathe a sigh of relief because you know your actions deserved a punishment.” No man can of himself understand his errors. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). While in jail Pauline met a Prison Fellowship volunteer who introduced her to Jesus. Her life began to change for the better. The volunteer helped her realize that she’s didn’t have to continue stealing just to provide for her siblings, after all it wasn’t her responsibility. Pauline’s life took a turn in an instance yet she had done nothing to receive this grace.
You’re not the Savior
“I knew that I could depend on God. I was not the Savior … it freed me,” Pauline says. Just as in Pauline’s life the gift of grace stands waiting for the most wicked of sinners, who see their state and receive the gift. What’s amazing about grace – God makes it clear that our human perfection isn’t needed. Jesus is the one who’s perfect and longs to give us his perfection. All God asks of us is to surrender (Ephesians 2:9).
The prayer of the publican was heard because it showed dependence reaching forth to lay hold upon Omnipotence. “The lips may express a poverty of soul that the heart does not acknowledge. While speaking to God of poverty of spirit, the heart may be swelling with the conceit of its own superior humility and exalted righteousness. In one way only can a true knowledge of self be obtained. We must behold Christ. It is ignorance of Him that makes men so uplifted in their own righteousness. When we contemplate His purity and excellence, we shall see our own weakness and poverty and defects as they really are. We shall see ourselves lost and hopeless, clad in garments of self-righteousness, like every other sinner. We shall see that if we are ever saved, it will not be through our own goodness, but through God’s infinite grace. The prayer of the publican was heard because it showed dependence reaching forth to lay hold upon Omnipotence. Self to the publican appeared nothing but shame. Thus it must be seen by all who seek God. By faith—faith that renounces all self-trust—the needy suppliant is to lay hold upon infinite power.” (Christ Object Lessons 159.3)
Grace isn’t simply pardon, it’s a new life full of opportunity regardless of your past. God says we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works. Our original design was perfection, nobility, royalty and holiness. God desires to restore us to that place, believe in him and his power and your change will come.