“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 5:14 (NIV)

We often remember the first part of this verse, and we use it to justify coming to God with our perpetual “wish list”.  To be sure, He wants us to feel able to tell him our desires, but there is so much more here that we usually forget.

The passage says, “so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Mercy is judgment withheld.  Grace is favor undeserved.  Both of these things are most needed when we are at our worst, our dirtiest, our most unworthy.  Look then, at the underlying point here: when we are told to come to God’s throne with confidence, it is at the same moment that we have every reason to be afraid and unwilling to approach.  We are told to come in faith not when we are “putting our best foot forward”, because if we did that, we might well fall pray to the pride of the self-righteous Pharisee whose prayers consisted of not much more than self-congratulation for not being like “those sinners”.

No, we come when we are down-and-out, in desperate need of mercy and grace, because our confidence is not in ourselves, but in the One who has called us near.  Through Jesus we are clean, so that our flesh may approach the holy God and receive that which we are most in need of, when we need it most of all.  “…to help us in our time of need.”