Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. Mark 5:5
In the course of my career as lawyer and pastor, I have known a few individuals who were “cutters”. One fellow described to me how he was driven by his internal pain and turmoil to cut his own arms. He told me how, as he watched the blood drain out of his wounds and run down onto the ground, he felt some small reprieve from the pressure. But it soon returned.
Many of us do the same. We may not inflict physical harm on ourselves but we have a wide variety of ways we try to purchase our own peace. We may obsess over guilty feelings for wrongs we have committed, beating ourselves up emotionally. We may even compensate for our failures by giving extravagant gifts of time or treasure.
It doesn’t work. It never did. That poor soul in our text for today didn’t just cry out and cut himself once. He did it night and day, cut off from other people, alone and in turmoil. Fortunately, the man possessed by “Legion” is an extreme case. Even more fortunately, even that extreme case was completely delivered by Christ.
The one thing we can never achieve is our own forgiveness. Our blood will not do it. A self-inflicted emotional flogging will not compensate for our wrongs. Everything we own is not enough. The only thing that will buy us forgiveness is the blood of Christ.
It sounds too good to be true. Yes, it’s that simple. Yes, the cost is all on Him. But so many of us would rather tax ourselves to the point of harm. Why? Perhaps because we would rather believe that we can pay for our own sin than accept that Christ paid for it for us.
Today, my friends, let’s admit our poverty. Start the day knowing that no matter how hard you work or how much you accumulate you will never be able to buy forgiveness. More importantly, remember you don’t have to.