A Good Dose of Reality

Devo Scripture: Genesis 9:18-25
Key Verse: “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.” (Ps. 103:10)

I like to give my kids a good dose of reality every once in a while. Problem is it’s usually not done with much grace. They have a clock in their room that turns green when it’s time to get up. Three of the four share a bedroom (works well for us). The instant that thing lights up Nascar takes off down the hallway. Then it’s a fight for the favorite kitchen chair. Ok guys it doesn’t matter who sat where yesterday just sit down. (I hand out spoons and bowls.) And then I hear it…Mom are you serious? Is this all the cereals we have? (Mind you there are four boxes on the table.) I encourage them to choose from the delightful sugary options in front of them but it’s to no avail. The pouting commences and I dish out servings of reality like a mack truck on a mission. Reminding them children are starving in Africa. Starving! Some may even die today. Yes I said die. So eat your bowl of reality (I mean cereal) and be happy.

And just like that I teach my children valuable life lessons on gratitude and contentment. Or so I’d like to think. (I wouldn’t advise my technique.) But seriously, sometimes a little dose of reality can be a good thing right? It can give us perspective. Remind us what’s important. Little did I realize it was my turn for a reality check as I poured over the last part of Genesis 9. But that’s exactly what I found. A much needed dose of reality.

It’s not an easy story to read (or teach). Noah, our hero the previous three chapters, drunk. Naked. Passed out in his tent. Years have passed since the flood. Enough to grow a vineyard and grandsons. And in the comfort of his own home Noah indulged. (Easy to do behind closed doors, isn’t it? When we think no one’s looking? When we think it won’t affect anyone else.) For some reason Ham went into Noah’s tent. Did he suspect something? The Hebrew word for see is ra’ah and can mean to leer at, enjoy, have experience, gaze, take heed. Seems to imply this was not an accidental look or maybe more than just a little look.

Verse 24 says “When Noah awake from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him.” Something had been done. But the truth of the matter is we don’t know what. Scholars differ in their opinions. What’s interesting is that Canaan is the one cursed, not Ham. Why him? Could Noah see he had a bent towards evil? Or did Canaan have something to do with his grandfather’s defilement that day? Leviticus 18 lends an interesting and sad interpretation. In that chapter to “uncover the nakedness” of a relative implies sexual sin. So some think Canaan committed a sexual sin on his grandfather. (I promised to never sugar coat the Scriptures for you.) This interpretation fits with the ways of the Canaanites (Lev. 18:3). They were to become a debase people steep in sexual sin, inparticular homosexuality (Sodom & Gomorrah). But the Scriptures are simply not clear regarding this incident.

Whatever happened we can be sure of one thing – it was sinful. Sin was still very real. Should we be surprised if sexual sin took place? Quite honestly, I don’t think so. (Reality check) Humanity at it’s core was and still is a heaping pile of filthy unrighteousness. The flood didn’t change that. A fresh start didn’t change that. I can’t change that. “We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved? We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags” (Is. 64: 5-6, NLT). Apart from Christ, this is who we are. You and I…we’re right in the middle of the heaping pile of filthy unrighteousness.

But God! (My two favorite words in the Bible.) But God can justify the ungodly through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 4:5). “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). The reality is I am not righteous in and of myself. But in Christ righteousness has been gifted to me (Rom. 5:17). Not by works, but through faith. Works are simply the outpouring of faith; the evidence of faith.

And it was the same for Noah. He was a sinner amid the heaping pile of filthy unrighteousness but because of his faith God declared him righteous (Gen. 6). This is fantastic news for us. It’s not because Noah lived a perfect life that the Bible speaks of him as righteous. Clearly he messed up too! He was merely an “heir of righteousness that comes by faith” (Heb. 11:7). And so are you “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead” (Rom. 10:9).

Then Jesus covers us with his righteousness. Covering our sin. “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Ps. 32:1). He covers our shame just as Shem and Japheth covered Noah. “For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield” (Ps. 5:12). O how my cup runneth over. Spill forth cup. Spill forth. This is my new reality. This is yours, in Christ. He forgives all your iniquity (Ps. 103:3). He redeems your life from the pit, and “crowns you with steadfast love and mercy” (Ps. 103:4). “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Ps. 103:10). Instead he gives to us according to his riches (Eph. 3:16). “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Ps. 103:12). The reality is there is no one like God. The reality is he is compassionate. The reality is he will “cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).

This is reality for every believer. For every person indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Oh I pray your cup runneth over. Let it spill forth in thanksgiving. The reality is only God can save us but he does. He does. Every day he does. Not because of who I am, but because of who he is. This my friend is reality. And today…today I needed a little dose of reality.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Is the gift of righteousness a reality for you? If so, is there evidence of this righteousness in your life?
Who might you lovingly share a dose of reality with today? I urge you to let your cup spill forth. Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news…image

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