Isaiah 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.
Kids all over are busy making out Christmas lists, all the stuff they want under the tree this Christmas. When they go to sit on Santa’s lap to share their requests what does he ask them? “Have you been good this year?” Goodness is, well, good. We ought to be good. We want our kids and other people to be good. But it is important to remember that God isn’t Santa; God is our Father. God doesn’t hold out his love to blackmail us into doing any particular thing. He doesn’t threaten us so that we will do what he wants us to do. The message of Christmas (and Advent) is one of grace. We miss the whole point if we think we deserve God’s favor, if we are good enough or at least better than some others. Quite frankly, this passage indicates that by God’s standards of goodness we are utter failures, we stink. But where our goodness fails God’s love prevails. To whatever extent we are good it is in grateful response to God’s love and not as a way to earn it. Love that is earned isn’t love, it is payment. When we are willing to accept that all our good deeds are like dirty rags then we are closer to living in the merciful love of God.