For so many people, it is important to live life in such a way that God will love them more. They also want God’s respect, as well as self-respect. To have God be proud of them, to get God’s “seal of approval” is very, very important to them. Let’s face it, they know, as I do, that they have “fallen short of the glory of God” and they want to fix that. It’s a very commendable way of looking at God and at life.
Some Ways to Earn God’s Love/Respect
Well, to those that want to do things to earn God’s Love/Respect, here is a list of what may help. Let’s call this the “First List”.
- Do everything you can to better understand your favorite Bible version.
- Attend church at every chance you get, and not just on Sunday.
- Be a more active part of that church than you are now.
- Give your Tithe to your local church, even go above 10%.
- Pray to God more about other people being saved.
- Show God how grateful you are that you are doing good works for Him.
- Take high-quality notes at every sermon you hear.
- Attend several weekly Bible Studies. Teach at some of them.
- Tell others that they must be saved, or else!
- Show God how grateful you are to be at your church, instead of being at other local churches.
- … there are others that I haven’t thought of.
Let me make it clear, all of the above are good things to do, and there is nothing wrong with them. I repeat: those are all good things to do, don’t get me wrong. They are commendable behaviors, but more on that later. Here are some more that I have heard from people. Here’s my “Second List”.
- Follow the 10 Commandments to the letter.
- Focus with intensity on what you do or think. Remember, it’s all up to you!
- Realize that others need to “catch up” to you and where you stand before God.
- Focus your prayers on what you say. (Without stopping to hear what He has to say).
- … I am sure that there are even more!
Let’s shift gears to talk of something else.
My Wife’s Love
Instead of behaviors, let’s look at relationships. Many of the best loving relationships are found in a family. (Yes, so are some of the worst. Those really bad ones never got to phase 4 below.) Don’t we try to do the same thing with parents and spouses? Isn’t it true that the “Honey Do” list is how I get more love from my wife?
I am not condemning that “Honey Do” list, after all, my wife may read this article! Seriously though, I enjoy doing things that need to be done and have been brought to my attention. It is possible that I earn some respect from her for doing these, or maybe she just feels more relaxed because things are getting done, and the love of her life is doing them.
However, if you were to ask her if she loves me more because of them, she will say “no”. Amazingly, she loves me not for what I do, but for who I am. She said “yes” over 33 years ago, because she loved me as I was. (Not perfect, nor even close.) Looking back at our walk together, I realize that we went through the same four phases listed below. It has been great getting to the last phase. (I am still far from being perfect!) Knowing my flaws, I find it amazing that she loves me as I am!
My Parent’s Love
My relationship with my parents went through stages as I grew.
- At first I had no idea what was going on, except that these two people were in my life. There was nothing beyond “us”.
- There was a time in my life when I really, really wanted to please my parents. I thought they would love me more if I did. Did my best to be a good son, a good boy because I wanted their love and their hugs. I wanted them to be proud of me. I was going to earn that pride! I followed the rules given me!
- As I grew older I started to do things that they did not respect. I started to break some of those rules. In part, because I wanted to live my own life and I was no longer focusing on earning their love or respect. To be more honest, I didn’t even care if they were proud of me, I was “free”. The chains that bound me to my parents were broken! I did not need them any more because my life was now centered on me!
- Later, as we learned to speak to each other, I learned that their pride in me had never been shaken. More importantly, neither was their love. They did not love me for my accomplishments, but because I was their son! I learned that I was never able to earn their love, though I was a very cute little child when I tried hard to do just that. At this stage of my life, I was finally growing closer to them without even realizing it.
Is It Idolatry?
Weird question, right? Let’s look back at the things we do so that we can earn more of God’s love. It is easy for some of us to make an idol of the things we do. We can easily put our behaviors between God and us. I know of people who behave as if they have put the Bible between and other people. At times I wonder if they have made the Bible their idol, and put it before a relationship with God! That’s still being in Phase 3, isn’t it? Focusing on what we believe, and our understanding! We are still childish, not having quality discussions with God, and not even hearing His voice. It’s not a bad place to be unless we refuse to grow out of it. Some cannot, and I am not condemning them, nor speaking about them. I am talking about you and me!
While the First List above shows very good behaviors, doing them to earn His love is wrong. It’s “putting the cart before the horse” as that old saying goes. God does NOT love us more for any of them. He really doesn’t. He loves you and me with all of His heart because we are his children! End of discussion! Just as my parents were unable to stop loving me (I did give them challenges, but they never stopped loving me!), God, in a much more powerful way, is unable to stop loving us. Remember that God is “love”. He doesn’t ever love us just a little bit. Never!
Is it Self-Righteousness?
The Second List above borders on “self-righteousness”. Being convinced that we are okay with God and others are not. This is like being a “teenager” in our actions with God. Nothing wrong with being a teenager, it’s just not best to stay one as we grow. It’s just a phase for us to grow beyond! Anyone that focuses on that list shows that they think they don’t need God. They are handling everything very well on their own. Jesus said that He did not come to the world to save the “righteous”, but to heal the sick. Ouch!
In John 3:16 we are told that “God so loved the world”. We know that it’s not the planet He loves, it’s the people on it. A way to accurately paraphrase those words is to say “God loved everyone so much”. He still does! His love for anyone has not changed at all. Whether we are Christians or not He loves each of us very deeply. By the way, Jesus paid for EVERYONE’s sins and flaws. EVERYONE, not just those people you and I approve of!
To make another point very clear, I do NOT believe in universal salvation. As I understand things, those that do not get past phase 3 above, are not going to heaven. Sorry to say that, as there are many people I love and I really want them there with me.
Growing Closer to God
None of the phases above are bad, or awful. None! They are just places along the path as we walk through life. The sad part of any of them is choosing to stay in them. To refuse to “grow up” and move to the next one. Some absolutely cannot, and I know God loves them as much as anyone else. I accept them 100% and again, am not talking about them. If God is calling you to “move on”, please listen to Him and do so. It’s a little scary, and you will need to trust Him that it will be alright, whether or not you succeed! He loves you so much!
Just as my wife loves me despite my flaws, God loves me very, very much despite … well, I’m not going into details here. Isn’t that amazing? I get that God the Father loves Jesus, He was the perfect Son! It’s beyond my understanding that He loves you and me just as much as He loves Jesus!
We go through phases in our walk with our parents, our husbands or wives, and in our walk with God. I am very grateful that I was able to get into the fourth phase with my parents before they died. I really love being in the fourth phase with my wife! Getting there showed me that God really wanted me to get into the same phase in my walk with Him.
It became time for me to drop the rules I hid behind. Drop my understanding of scripture and become open to what He meant by it. To become more open with others, without regard to their religion, their politics, or any other divisive issue. They are all God’s children, totally loved by God, even if they don’t understand or acknowledge that yet.
He doesn’t love me because I’m special, or better than anyone else, but because I am His son. You are also His son or daughter. He wants you to get closer to Him than you are now. Reach for His hand, grab it and walk with Him more than you walk with anything or anyone else. Trust Him and tone down your fears. His love will be with you all the time. It will be okay. It will be awesome!
Please comment and/or respond to what you heard inside of you as you read this! Let’s share!
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