June 3, 2010
There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins. Ecclesiastes 7:20
That passage from Ecclesiastes is pretty all-inclusive.
There isn't much wiggle room left when the author says, "there is not a righteous man on earth."
When most of us hear those words, we immediately start to come up with some exceptions to the rule. After all, every rule has exceptions.
We start to think of good -- no -- great people. How about St. Francis? Mother Theresa? Albert Schweitzer? No, all of them have some faults and flaws. Anybody else pop into mind? How about George Washington? He was a good man, I mean, all of us know that he could not tell a lie.
No lie telling? In and of itself that would be pretty impressive.
Sadly, even the great George Washington managed to do some sinning.
Evidence of that fact comes from New York's oldest library. One of its ledgers shows the first president has managed to accumulate 220 years' worth of late fees on books he borrowed, but never returned. One of those books was The Law of Nations, and the other was a volume of debates from Britain's House of Commons. Forget to return them? I think they were probably so boring he forgot he ever had them.
No matter what the excuse, the books are overdue.
All of this is designed to make us ask, "If a great man like Washington was a sinner, then what chance do we have?" The odds have to be pretty small, don't you think.
If we were left on our own, those odds of forgiveness or salvation would be a failing zero percent.
But we are not left on our own. The sinless Son of God has entered this world to take our place. During His life He fulfilled the laws we have broken; in His passion He carried the sins we have committed.
Now, because of Jesus, there is forgiveness for sinners like you, me, and -- yes -- even the father of the United States, George Washington.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I know that on my own and left to my own resources, I am lost. For having loved me and all sinners enough to sacrifice Your Son, I have a debt that cannot be paid. Allow me, to the best of my ability to lead a life that pleases You and shows my appreciation. In Jesus' Name I ask this. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries