“To reach heart bedrock with God’s grace is to recognize all the ways that we make good things into idols and ways of saving ourselves. It is to instead finally recognize that we live wholly by God’s grace. . . . When we’ve reached bedrock with God’s grace, it begins to drain us slowly but surely, of both self-righteousness and fear.”- Timothy Keller
“Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded . . . because of the law that requires faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”- Romans 5:26-27 (NIV)
Timothy Keller concludes Chapter 8 of The Prodigal Prophet as he talks about the problem of self-righteousness. Certainly, Jonah saw some of his need for grace. Yet, some pride still remained. Yes, Jonah needed mercy, but surely he felt he stood on higher ground than those pagan sailors.
However, Pastor Keller notes, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt concludes from his research that “self-righteousness is the normal human condition.”
In addition, Pastor Keller explains, we learn this lesson from Jonah:
“Jonah’s self-righteousness had been diminished somewhat but not destroyed. He cried, ‘Salvation comes from the LORD’ yet also, in effect, ‘But I’m not like those awful pagans (Jonah 2:8-9).’ That is why he was still susceptible to the spiritual crash that happened to him after God showed Nineveh mercy. He still felt, to some degree, that mercy had to be deserved, and they didn’t deserve it.”
Furthermore, we learn from the prophet Isaiah that understanding God’s grace — and being changed by it — always requires a long journey with successive stages. It cannot happen in a single cathartic or catastrophic event. Like being swallowed by a fish!
In conclusion, Pastor Keller states that every time Jonah took God and His grace to the bottom, it turned out he needed to go deeper. To reach heart bedrock, God must be most foundational to your happiness. Otherwise, the author counsels, we remain fragile and self-righteous.
Today’s question: What Scriptures help you reach heart bedrock with God’s grace? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “The ungrateful servant = Jonah”