There, But for the Grace of God, Go I

seed:

The sin that I have done, the sin that I would have done, is my sin.

                                                                                                                        John Donne

 

What does that statement mean? We’ve all heard people say it, but it’s always laid at the feet of someone else, somebody else’s sin. We don’t really see ourselves in that sin. If you have ever uttered the words, “There, but for the grace of God, go I” did you mean them? Let’s make sure we all know what we’re talking about here.

A man lays in a gutter because, again, he has had too much to drink. The bottle controls him; there seems to be nothing he can do to give it up. There, but for the grace of God,…

She lives in a little apartment alone. Obviously, she is young; just as obviously, she is pregnant. It seems that there is no one to help her or see to her welfare. She walks into an abortion clinic because she knows there is no way she can do this on her own. There, but for the grace of God,…

The talking head on the news is going on about a man, just uptown, who beat his wife and finally beat her too hard. He is accused of murder. There, but for the grace of God,…

That saying may be your reaction to these or any of an infinite number of scenarios. Every day people are caught in sin. They are humiliated, they are judged, they are sentenced in the court of public opinion. Knowledgeable regarding the depravity of sinfulness, you realize that you could have been the one lying in the gutter, having a baby on your own…an abortion, or the guy getting so angry that you beat something you love to death.  But, do you really think that you could have been that person? You don’t have that kind of personality; you were raised in church; you are reasonable and would never go that far. Really?!

John Donne, a famous poet and theologian from the 1600s, said it in words everyone can understand. “The sin that I have done, the sin that I would have done, is my sin.

What would I have been without the holy justifying action of Christ? Would I have been a drunkard, a lost soul, a murderer? Is there any way to know what I would have been? Do I really want to know?

Paul was a murderer. He said that of sinner’s he was chief (I Timothy 1:15). He knew who he had been and what he would have continued to be. He would have truly understood the saying, “There, but for the grace of God, go I”.

We are of sin, of Adam’s race, from the time we are conceived. What we have done, what we are doing, what we will do, we are saved from. But, we are also saved from what we would have done. Praise God that “There, but for the grace of God, go I”!!

John Donne went on to say, “If I say that my sins are my own, they are none of mine…they are made the sins of Him…my blessed Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.”

Maybe now you fully understand the saying, “There, but for the grace of God, go I”. Apart from God’s grace you and I would have been very different people. Praise God every day that he saved you from the sins you never got to commit because you became His! And, truly, pray for those, heart-rendingly care for those, minister to those, who do not have the same advantages you already have through the grace of God. Say to yourself, “There, but for the grace of God, go I”, then show that grace to someone who is going there.

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