I’ve made the statement before that comfort is our greatest hurdle when it comes to loving LGBT people well. While I stand by that statement, a very close second place is the belief that God saved us because of something inherently good about us that other people do not have. It’s a form of legalism where we believe we, at least partially, earned God’s grace rather than it truly being a gift.
What this does is shift the credit for salvation at least partially to us. It de-emphasizes God’s mercy, patience, and power, and it de-emphasizes our filthy, dead hearts. Conveniently, it instead emphasizes our inherent goodness (a goodness we believe many others do not share). We believe God couldn’t possibly choose us solely because of His own mercy and wisdom completely despite us. Surely we at least deserved something!
Also, remember that you don’t have to explicitly profess something in order to believe it. This belief shows itself when we shake our heads at the poor person begging for money at the street corner. It shows itself in our impatience with our brother who keeps committing that same sin over and over. It shows itself when we don’t consider the lost to be worth our time because they seem over-the-top sinful and proud of it. We forget that we are exactly the same.
Did God save me because I’m better than other people?
This is one of those areas God takes particular interest in, and He’s very clear about it. Rather than choosing me because I’m better than others, God says explicitly He actually chose me because I’m worse than others (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). He chose me because I’m shameful, weak, and low. Why? So that neither me nor anyone else would ever boast in ourselves but only in Him. To move our eyes off of ourselves and onto God alone.
God says that His choice to save me had nothing to do with my desires or my actions but rather it depended solely on His wisdom (Romans 9:6-18). He says I was dead in sin and that it was solely His rich mercy and great love that made me alive together with Jesus (Ephesians 2:1-7). Why? To show off His grace and kindness toward us in Jesus. He says every single one of us were completely devoid of anything that would deserve being saved (Romans 3:9-20). He explicitly says nobody is saved by obeying the law but is saved solely as a gift apart from any means of earning (Romans 3:21-25). Why? To show off His righteousness (Romans 3:26).
My favorite passage, though, is probably 1 Corinthians 4:1-7. Paul displays for us the fact that we exist as servants, not masters, as stewards, not owners. He shows us humility rather than superiority. And in verse 7, he says
“Who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”
Even just considering the gospel message itself, what part of “I was so far gone that God had to crush His own Son to rescue me,” says I’m better than anyone? The gospel inherently says, “I believe I’m worse than you, not better.”
God has a reason for saving us despite ourselves
Notice the conspicuous theme we keep seeing over and over again. God has an agenda, and that agenda is to show Himself off as deeply and widely as possible. This is why salvation is His action alone completely despite us. It’s to keep us from boasting and to fix our eyes on Him rather than ourselves. It’s to get our eyes where they belong, where we find our greatest pleasure and rest.
Humility leads you to love others more
When you see yourself as having deserved salvation while others do not, it leads to an attitude that considers other people as frustrating obstacles rather than valuable people. But when you see that God saved you completely despite your best attempts, the only question you can ask is, “Why me?!” (Psalm 8:4). In that humility, you realize there is nothing about you that is any better than anyone else. It leads you to want them to have the same grace you have because you realize that you deserve it less than they do. It leads you to see them as people and not frustrations. It leads you to mourn rather than judge when they hurt and when they sin. It makes you empathetic.
When you live and speak a gospel you’ve subtly begun to believe you don’t need, it stops making sense to other people. But when you realize how much you still need Jesus’s continuing rescue and how little you deserve it, God becomes a lot clearer in the words you speak and the life you live.