For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. Titus 2:11-12 (NIV)
A hospital these days can be a pretty difficult place in which to live a self-controlled, upright and godly life. Often the atmosphere in the mess is one of self-indulgence, drunkenness and immorality, especially on party nights. The pressure of clinical work can make this an attractive way of relaxation and tension-relief, and a number of our colleagues will see nothing wrong in making the most of the opportunities.
It is good to be called back to what should motivate our way of life, the 'grace of God that brings salvation'. What is grace? It is the boundless favour and mercy of God shown to undeserving sinners. It was grace that brought the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of heaven, to earth, to be born in an animal-house, to live as a humble carpenter and to die, 'the righteous for the unrighteous' (1 Pet 3:18) on a cruel wooden cross. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: 'While we were still sinners, Christ died for us' (Rom 5:8). Was there anything desirable, attractive or good about us that should motivate God to send his Son to die for us? No! We were lost sinners bound for a hell we deserved. It was nothing but pure, full, eternal and 'amazing' grace.
If we involve ourselves in 'ungodliness and worldly passions', we pour scorn on the grace of God, trampling it in the dust of our own selfish desires. If evil inclinations creep into our hearts, we have forgotten the glorious nature of the grace that saved our souls, and have grown cold towards our Saviour. So when the pressures of the world bring temptation, let us remember the grace of God revealed in Christ our Saviour, tortured, bleeding and dying for us. Let us say with Thomas, as we see his pierced hands and side, 'My Lord and my God' (Jn 20:28).
When I survey the wondrous cross
Where the young Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small,
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Further reading: Rom 6:1-14.