We often know a lot about God but don’t live in the good of it. We know that God is good but can’t trust that He is good to me as an individual; maybe we believe that He is good to others but not to me. Why is that?
Many of us struggle to experience the abundance of God’s blessing because deep down we don’t think we deserve it. We have a sense that we are not good enough. Instead of saying “that’s absolutely right, I’ve done nothing to deserve God’s love. Jesus has done it all for me when He died on the cross”, we set about making ourselves worthy (as if we could).
We try harder to please God, we get involved in works and performing well in order to earn God’s love. This is a miserable place to be. We know the truth but we don’t experience it for ourselves. We see others enjoying God, worshipping Him with abandon, experiencing intimacy with Him but we are stuck with our to do lists: I must pray more, I must serve more, I must have a regular bible study, I must, I ought, I should. That is not the language of freedom, it is not the language of grace. Of course it is good to pray and to study your bible but the motivation is wrong. I do not need to earn anything from God because He has given us everything freely to enjoy.
The enemy sees our weakness and he points out all our failings to us. You didn’t pray this morning, you didn’t volunteer to serve, you’ve blown it and so on. This compounds our feelings of unworthiness and we feel condemned. So often our response to this is not to go to God but to try harder. It’s hopeless. How could I ever know that I have done enough to make myself worthy? It’s like having a mortgage where I don’t know the sum to be repaid or how long the term is . That means I will ALWAYS be trying to repay a debt.
I have spent too long in my life trying to do well, being fearful of getting it wrong and of making mistakes. How sad it is that we feel we need to work, work, work. We can become like the older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son, he is so caught up with his work that he can’t rejoice when his brother comes home and is jealous of him because His father lavishes love on him even though he has done nothing to deserve it. That is the whole point! And yet he missed it just like we do. This is the message of grace – we have done nothing to deserve God’s love but He has freely given it to us through what Jesus has done for us.
This parable is a wonderful picture of the love God has for us. Even though his son had turned his back on him, the father looked every day for the return of his son. When the day came that he returned home rather than put his son to work he puts a robe around him and a ring on his finger and calls for a fatted calf to be killed so that they can have a celebration.
This is what our Father God is like with us. He loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die for us. We have probably heard that scripture so many times but do we let that truth sink into our hearts, that the God of Heaven, the God of the Universe, the Father of Creation itself loved me so much that He gave His son for me? That means that I am now FREE! Free from sin, free from guilt, free from shame because Jesus has paid the price for me.
I can enjoy all the benefits that knowing God brings. I can know that I am loved unconditionally, I can enjoy an intimate relationship with God because He no longer calls me a slave but a friend. (Jn. 15:15)
I think that one of the saddest things about the story of the Prodigal Son is that the older brother lived with the father all the time and could enjoy all that brought to him but he didn’t because he was so caught up in working to get his father’s approval.
We only have one life to live – I don’t want to waste mine working for something that is already mine to enjoy. Jesus came that we might have abundant life. Life full of joy, contentment, at peace with ourselves and with God. Why would I choose to live differently?
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