I’ve never admitted this in public or in private. Of course, God knows and thankfully keeps it to Himself. Am I ashamed? Not really. I didn’t rob a bank or cheat my way through college or father multiple families all over the world. None of the juicy stuff. Sorry to disappoint you! Yet, having my undergraduate college degree in biblical Greek language makes me squirm when I admit that I fail the elementary Greek entrance exam at Princeton Seminary. Failed, with a capital ‘F’, their basic test that clears the way to enter high-level Greek language studies, which is exactly where I should be.
Instead, I’m forced into remedial Greek for a semester. How boring as I truly know the biblical Greek ins and outs backward and forward. It’s as if I’d known diddly-squat about the New Testament language. Somehow, I forget to mention to seminary classmates or professors about my college major. Mums the word. Anyway, none of their beeswax.
Time to own up now? Seems safe being almost five decades ago. Unfortunately, on a more serious note, what’s up to date is our sinful nature. Its pervasiveness. Can’t get away from it. That’s my story. Just me? Once again, I fail the test. Haven’t mastered perfection, needing massive remedial work and not only for one semester.
Pervasive sin is but one part of the story. The other centers on Jesus, who forgives us and gets us back on track with Him. Lifts us up off the ground. Scrapes off the dirt and mud. Cleans us up, turning us in the right direction while giving us many more chances in life. Romans 6:23–‘For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ That’s the rest of the story. Thankfully.
Wait a minute. Let’s unpack that verse. Our sin pays wages. We’ve earned them. So, stop blaming everyone else. Exercise ownership. And praise God that the verse doesn’t end there. For we’re offered a free gift from Jesus Christ–life forever the likes of which we can hardly imagine. Nothing you have to earn. Nothing having to do with being good enough. Then what? Only to accept Jesus into your life, knowing that He’s done it all; and then, naturally, wanting to follow Him. Again, faultless and flawless? Hardly. But more and more like Him. Three steps forward, one back. Make the trend your friend by following Jesus in His direction.
Okay, I failed my entrance exam. I’ve said it now and feel much better. However, for a long time now, I’ve been hitting both my Greek and Hebrew textbooks to keep current. Even adding Aramaic for good measure or as punishment for my failure! No more remedial biblical languages for me. And best of all–no more tests!
Here’s a Christmas gift to enjoy–leaving the past behind. Moving forward more and more. Looking over your shoulder less and less. Enjoying the new life given to you by Jesus.
Thank you, Jesus, for new beginnings. Amen.