“…But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been save…” Eph 2:4-5
There is nothing quite so soul-crushing as feeling as if you have to earn someone’s love and acceptance. Perhaps you had a father that pushed you toward academic or athletic success and you never felt like you were able to measure up? Maybe you have a mother that never sees the good, but always points out the flaws? Maybe you have a spouse that never seems satisfied with you despite whatever progress you feel you’ve made? What a soul-crushing, spirit-extinguishing, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, anxiety-producing feeling!
If you never hear anything else on this planet, hear this: You don’t have to earn God’s love. Never, ever, no-never in a million years could you earn his love even if you tried. His love is a gift freely offered despite our sin, our moral failings, and our character flaws. Paul in Ephesians 2 describes the sinful state of man in vv. 1-3: “Dead in trespasses and sin,” “sons of disobedience,” and “children of wrath.” Nevertheless, he records the two most life-giving words in all of human history in v. 4: “But God…” This changes everything! God’s love is never based on human merit. This is grace. In fact, Paul goes so far as to explicitly say this: By grace you have been saved!
Weary hearts, understand this well: He loves us with a “great love” even when we were dead in our trespasses. Paul doesn’t say, “Because of God’s mercy and love, he gives you another chance to earn his favor.” His love for you is never rooted in your performance. Because of the work of Christ, you are accepted by grace. Jesus was good enough… indeed, he is more than good enough! His righteousness is credited to you. Do you understand what this means? Jesus was “good enough” for you. How can a holy God accept a flawed, jacked-up, messy, gross, never-have-your-act-together sinner like yourself? Because of your union with King Jesus! He is the perfect law-keeper! He is our Sinless Substitute! The wrath of a just God was poured out on the God-Man so that we are now able to stand before him un-condemned! What a marvelous mystery! What a cosmic scandal!
This week, dear Christian, know that no matter who rejects you, no matter who refuses to accept you as you are, no matter who withholds their affection from you, you are fully loved and accepted and welcomed by the King of Glory. You don’t have to earn his love. You already have it.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Matthew S. Rickett