He Loves Me!
This devotional is a series of excerpts from Wayne Jacobsen's life changing book, He Loves Me! Download a PDF of this book by clicking the link below.
Day 16: A Far Better Plan
Is it any wonder then, that my young friend would sum up the ministry of her youth group by saying, "Same old thing, Dad. God is good. You are bad. Try harder!" Unfortunately too many people think that's the essence of the gospel and yet on that basis none of us could ever stand before him.
Even David knew that in his more desperate moments. As he hid in a cave from those who sought to kill him, he cried out for God's mercy. "Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you" (Psalm 143:2). Aware of his own weaknesses, he was not willing to stake God's favor on his performance.
Later, as he prostrated himself over the public exposure of his adultery and the murder of the cheated husband and as he grieved the loss of the son his affair produced, he again seeks another standard. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51:17).
The truth of the matter is that the same Scriptures that give us lists of qualifications to earn God's favor, also clearly state that there is not enough goodness in any one of us to fulfill those requirements. Only Jesus would be able to do so. No matter how much we try to earn his favor we will always fall short. The more effort we give, the more distant he will seem.
Why? Because the favor line causes us to swing between periods of self-pity and self-righteousness. When we recognize our shortcomings, we want to give up in despair. But even when we feel good about our efforts, we cannot understand why God doesn't make himself as real for us as Scripture seems to indicate he wants to. Self-righteousness can be a far greater deterrent to the relationship God wants with us than our failures and mistakes.
When our best-intentioned efforts go unrewarded, we may become disillusioned and drift away. For great periods of time we find ourselves distracted from even thinking about our relationship with God and try to satiate our hunger with a host of other things-our work, other people, religious services or even buying new things. Though these may work for awhile, in quieter moments the hunger returns. None of these things will ever satisfy the hunger that longs to know the Living God.
That's why trying to live to the favor line will at some point leave you stranded in hopelessness. Either like Peter, after he denied Jesus on the night he needed him most, you will be disillusioned by your own failure to do the good you know to do; or like Job you will question whether or not God even loves you or treats you fairly. God never wanted us to end up in either place. He instead invites us not to walk the tightrope of the favor line, but discover a far better way to know him.