By Caleb Keith –
Today, I spent approximately four hours separating, organizing, and scanning various papers, articles, and magazines for Dr. Rod Rosenbladt. Since his retirement last fall, I have been assisting him with various aspects of the transition. This has meant moving a lot of books and sorting through a lot of paper. Most of that sorting involves scanning important documents so that he no longer needs to keep stacks of papers. Today, I was excited as I opened up one of the last boxes labeled “Scan.” I laid out everything on my kitchen table, plugged my computer into the scanner, and began to work. I periodically checked the quality of the scans to make sure no words were blurry and nothing was crooked. What I failed to notice until I was nearly through the entire stack of paper was that I had been aligning all of the paper on the wrong edge of the scanner. I spent four hours cutting off the last two lines of every single page.
The above mistake was an avoidable error, one that could have been simply caught in the first ten minutes of my work. While I had checked for straightness and clarity, I ignored the bottom half of every page. I had convinced myself that I was doing a good job and that everything was okay and plowed along through four hours of work, while simultaneously screwing it all up. The reality is that this sort of thing happens every day. It is always very easy to convince myself that everything is moving along just fine, if not great. I am happily married; I have a good job, a beautiful daughter, and food on the table. While I bask in these great things, I ignore the times I didn’t listen to my wife, the times I didn’t get my work done on time, the times the baby needed changing five minutes ago, and the times that the trash needed to be taken out. I am narrow sighted, only seeing what I want to see while ignoring the rest. The same goes for our condition before God.
How often I feel morally and spiritually superior to those around me because of things I do, say, or read. While I only see my good works, God sees the whole picture. The whole picture isn’t very good. In fact, it’s downright miserable. Our sinful state, the one we try to ignore, means we will never be doing good enough. That tendency to praise the good and ignore the bad is precisely why we need both the Law and the Gospel. The Law is an eye opener. It grabs us by the ear and forces us to see all the sin we so readily ignore. The Law is not the solution to that sin; it does not make us right with God. That power is of the Gospel alone. Christ takes up that sin so that, instead of staring in the distance and ignoring it, we can stare at the cross and receive forgiveness. Now it’s time to rescan a big stack of paper.