Does a big behemoth of a trash truck thrill you? Around my house, we think they’re wonderful.
For several years whenever any of us, Ellen, Emma, Sarah or I, heard the low rumble of the approaching beast, we would shriek in various keys and styles, and run to the window to glimpse the lumbering removal system. What a spectacle. The big-as-a-house creature would sort of squat down and unfurl one of its alien-like arms. This appendage of deliverance would deftly reach out and grasp our cowering container of garbage, hoist it skyward, and forcefully shake it until it expended every last vestige of foulness.
Our comparatively diminutive container, which, resting in the street had previously looked happy enough, immediately appeared somehow grateful—like it had suddenly realized it was never supposed to be happy when stuffed full, and that its friend was the trash truck. As it rumbled away, we always waved goodbye. “Thank you, Mr. Trash Truck and Mr. Trash Man! Thank you for taking our trash! We love you! See you next week!”
The truth is, we still cheer Mr. Trash Man. Just last night I encouraged my youngest daughter to welcome His work.
For some time now my family and I have likened the Holy Spirit’s effort within us to that of the trash man. Pardon us if you’re offended by our comparison, but consider God’s directive: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). We know by experience what I’ll bet you do, too. God isn’t particularly thrilled just because we set out our trashy anxieties, whether by the confession of sin or by the expression of our fears; He is interested in caring for us.
God’s care for me (and His care for you) doesn’t come only when I’m doing well and loving life, but when I’m doing poorly and full of garbage. Sin, failures and fears often whisper to us that we’ve got to stop them—Stop them right now!—but they never suggest we immediately offer ourselves to God who can do something about them. And sin, failures and fears never bring up Jesus’ ability concerning struggles and temptations, either. Maybe you’ve noticed. Yet He faced every struggle and temptation we’ve had and disposed of them. All of them. He is expert!
And where is this Jesus today? He is in you and me. And He is in my wife and daughters. Look, you’re not full of garbage—God lives in you! But sometimes you’ll feel like you are. Don’t believe it; it’s a lie directed at the glory of God in you, the evidence of what He has done for you.
That’s why one of our pet names for God is The Trash Man. When we know that one of us is beleaguered we might say something like, “I wonder what the Trash Man might do for you?” Immediately we know what’s meant: God is good and amazing in the middle of sin, failures and fears, struggle and temptation. He’s good with us, and He’s always about freedom and purity—He is The Sanitation Expert! He knows how to make and keep the majesty of His Bride.
You’ll never ever be an offense to Him. He cares for you in anything and everything, no matter what. Talk with Him and call upon Him when the trash is threatening—when you feel like you’re an inside mess of contradiction: “Father, I’m feeling awful and ugly things inside, but I wonder if you might have something you’d like to do with me—the real me that you know even better than I do, since you live in me, the real me that you created . . .”
His care for you will be evident, and you’ll learn more quickly to welcome Mr. Trash Man.
Have you found that much of this world’s pressure and torment ends up serving your desire for Jesus? Has that happened for you?
God has made us to have deep yearnings for love and life and satisfaction, and if we are finding this world as it is—faulty and frustrating—then it’s likely that we’ll find Him as the contrasting and constant treasure He is. That’s something of the plan.
It’s difficult, I know! But if our “citizenship is in heaven”, and we are just now a sort of loosely assembled, heavenly colony, then doesn’t it figure that you and I already find most enjoyable the truth and grace which one day will be ours without measure? He is Jesus. Fortunately, we’re already listed in the logbook and scheduled for the coming rescue flight and home-going party.
Until that day, we’ve got what the apostle Paul wrote about in Philippians 1—the longing to depart this world and to be with Christ, which is the greatest thing, and the attendant knowledge that we’re likely going to be here a fruitful while longer. (See Philippians 1:21-26)
Hang in there, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of God. Jesus really is faithful and capable with you. It’s Him you want, and it’s Him you have. Remember?
Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
The good news is that God remembers my track record no more. And, through faith in Jesus, not yours either. While the world tells me to obsess upon how I’m doing and how I’ve done, God doesn’t ever point to it and say, “See? This is why you’re such a success. Pat yourself on the back!” or “This is why you’re such a loser. Pull it together, man!” Instead, God points to Jesus and says to me, “I have given you His record as your own, and it is flawless. It is perfect. His success is yours; it belongs to you now. Get used to that, because I’m going to be telling you all about it all the time. It will change your life.”
Speaking of the religious busybodies and track record accountants of his day, the apostle Paul writes to the Philippians in chapter 3:7-11:
“The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness. I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself.”
Look behind and you’ll see that you’ve got a new track record—it’s perfect. It’s His. Look ahead, and the race is to know Jesus, who has everything for you already, even before you’ve taken a step. You win. Race won. That is your new track record.
(See Philippians 3:1-14; Colossians 3:1-4; 2 Corinthians 3:1-10; Romans 4:23-5:2.)
(If you’ve been wondering about the heart of a Christian, this is for you.)
Some years ago when I was palling around with my single, male ministry friends, we were discussing one of our favorite topics: women. We were talking about our true desire to not get into trouble with females. Some of us had a history of struggle and of doing things we knew were not in keeping with our life in Christ. We knew it. We felt it. Certain physical things outside of marriage are not appropriate, so we were talking about how best to prefer God and the women we dated. One of the guys threw up his hands and proclaimed, “I’m not dating anymore, I’m not giving myself a chance to do wrong,” and he paused to take a deep, attention-gathering breath before concluding, “because God says that the heart is wicked, so I cannot trust myself.” We all thought, “Wow. That’s not good news at all! We’re in big trouble!”
So, to better prosecute ourselves(!), we looked up the verse he was referencing (Jeremiah 17:9 NASB), and there it was, the we-are-rotten-to-the-core proof: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” We said, “Gosh, that’s just great. It’s more deceitful than anything? We can think of a lot of ‘anything’ that we thought was more deceitful than our hearts. But no.”
Another version translates the Hebrew this way: “The heart is the most deceitful thing there is and desperately wicked. No one can really know how bad it is!” (TLB) And another one really put the nail in the coffin: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (NIV) “Oh, great!” we said, “So there’s no cure for it, either! Don’t we feel much better?!”
No, we didn’t. And it sure made some common sayings seem odd: “Love each other from the heart.” That’s gotta be difficult with a desperately wicked heart. And how about this complimentary phrase: “She has such a warm heart.” We said, “She can’t have a warm heart! Not if it’s the one we’re learning about!” And how about this descriptive sentiment: “He has a broken heart.” And we said, “Heck if he does! He has a horrible heart! It’s worse than being broken, it’s fully-functioning awful!”
This gave birth in some of us to the desire and creation of new forms of accountability groups—a way of policing our terribly untrustworthy selves. Imagine it: none of us could trust ourselves, so we put ourselves in charge of policing ourselves together. Brilliant! Maybe the odds of success would improve; you know, a safety in numbers kind of thing.
Well, I had a problem: I didn’t have time for the groups or gatherings that some of the guys designed. I was too busy. Besides that, I didn’t really understand it. Something seemed wrong about it all. It didn’t make sense with what I knew about God in me. What I had been finding in my early life with Christ in me was that our being together made all the difference with me. I no longer was vigilant with myself, paying great attention to my presumably wicked and deceitful heart, because my attention had been re-directed—captured, by God in me.
So hearing the Jeremiah 17:9 verse kind of threw me out of whack for a while. It didn’t make sense. After pondering it for few days I did what I often do with things that don’t work in my life with God: I forgot about it. I carried on in life with God in me, enjoying the little understood fact that how God is with people (even the opposite sex) was now how I was with them, too. As a result of our union, our getting together, His life and desires and influence were given to me and were expressed through me. I thought, “Wow. This is way better than the groups those guys are torturing themselves in.”
Through the new birth, the second birth in Christ, my old heart, the wicked and deceitful one left to itself, had been removed and a new one put in its place. As Old Covenant believers at one time traveled to the perfect dwelling place of God, so now New Covenant believers have become the perfect dwelling place of God. That is the new heart you have. The new heart is the dwelling place of God with you—on your inside.
Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, there was no way of curing the heart. Before the New Covenant in Christ, Jesus said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly” (Mark 7:20-22).
But God always intended to do something perfectly curative about the heart. By the Holy Spirit, the prophet Ezekiel wrote about God’s plan: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:26-27). That’s the gospel! That’s the BIG DEAL—God is born into us! He has given us a heart to contain Him. We had a heart problem—God wasn’t in it—but we no longer do because it has been made perfect for God with us and in us.
The new heart is where God lives in union with me. I make decisions in my heart—the Holy Spirit and I together—so it’s a decision from the heart, from that place. To be clear, it’s not so much a decision OF the heart, like the heart is all-by-itself a decision maker. It’s a place where choices and influence happens most powerfully with God and me, and with God and you.
In this way, you and I, the new creation sons of God, meet with Him and are under His influence and subsequent leading, which produces the fruit of the Spirit through you and me. Tahdah! The Christian life. That’s it! We’re set up for God on the inside.
Have a look at the following verses.
2 Corinthians 9:7 “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” And where is God? Inside of you. Do you think He might have something to do with making you cheerful in the giving? I think so.
1 Peter 1:22 “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” That’s where you and God are together, in the heart. Do you suppose that there’s a whole lotta love goin’ on in your heart? Yes!
Ephesians 6:6 “Obey them (your masters) not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.” (Parenthesis mine.) That’s the key. It’s from the two of you together on the inside—from your heart. The will of God naturally flows from there. How cool is that?
The apostle Paul wrote about what had happened to the new-hearted Corinthians: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Before the New Covenant in Christ, “darkness” was the condition of our hearts. But God Himself turned on the light because He came into our hearts, having made them a perfect place to dwell with us. With you. With me.
That’s the new heart. That’s what we received in Christ. That’s pretty good, right?
In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
The thief (Satan) comes to take and to damage thereby; that’s Satan’s pattern. Jesus comes to give and repair; that’s Jesus’ pattern. Think about that.
I want to remind you today simply that Jesus is not asking you to give Him your heart—He has given you His. Jesus is not asking you to give Him your life—He has given you His. That’s the pattern.
The rest of your days will be about exploring how good He is for you so He can do and give and repair more and more for you. That’s life by Jesus. You enjoy life that comes from Him, right? And He loves giving and repairing. That’s what He’s like. That’s the pattern, and that’s what you’re set up for.
If you’ve been hearing or giving yourself to a contrary pattern, no matter where it comes from, no matter how you hear it, there will be no life in it, and consequently, there will be no repair. It’s not for you. It’s not from Jesus. One pattern is from this world—take and damage. The other is from Jesus—give and repair. That’s Him.
If you ever wonder, “What’s going on with me?”, here’s a way that you can know, here’s how you can trace back through your thoughts and feelings to the influence that made them happen. In other words, “How did I get here?”
If you’ve often been thinking and saying things like, “I’m such a sinner.” “I’m so broken.” “I am no good.” then you’re feeling generally hopeless. But that is the proof that you’ve been surrendering your thoughts to what the Bible identifies as the ministry of the law. What it serves you, what it does is offer you a required standard of behavior that you agree would be right, while giving you absolutely nothing to accomplish it. Zero. (History proves that no one can pull off what it requires—except for One—Jesus. Certainly not me! Likely not you, either.)
Always it brings out your failures by accurately proving your guilt—it nails you every time—and you agree that you’re guilty. “It’s true! Look at all the evidence!” And then it condemns and serves a sort of depression, of course, and a slow death (See Romans 7). You’re going to feel that. It’s going to affect you. You’d almost hope you would because it’s a sign that something’s gone wrong.
However, the ministry of the Holy Spirit—what God does—is bring out Christ’s success for you, and removes guilt, proves innocence, and produces righteousness and life given to you because of Jesus. Always. That’s His ministry, that’s what He’s doing with you right now. So if you’re tuned in to the Spirit and the truth, then you’re going to think and say things like: “I am actually a son of God.” “I’m complete in Jesus. I lack nothing.” “I am truly good.” You’re affected and feeling hopeful.
If you, a believer in Jesus, are hearing or sensing or knowing anything else, then you’re not tuned-in to God. You’re not tuned into the truth. So check your channels, check your dial, check what you’re thinking and reading and watching because He’s saying something fantastic and deeply satisfying to you right now.
In essence, Jesus is saying to you, “Because of Me, you are well.” You can’t get well-er. He means for you to know all about it—that’s what He’s doing with you, that’s what He’s working toward—and He knows that it’s the greatest, most pure motivator there is.
This is what we serve, this is what we offer to people—not the old covenant (Jewishness) but the new (Christianity)! We offer the gospel; the good news about Christ for you and for everyone. And the Holy Spirit will see to it that your thoughts bear fruit, and you’re often going to feel that. By itself, it isn’t a feeling, but it’s a work of truth that oftentimes results in feelings. I like that, and I bet you do, too.
2 Corinthians 3:6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone (the Ten Commandments), came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that brought condemnation (the Ten, the law, any one or all of them—take your pick) was glorious (in that it brought us to Christ; see Galatians 3:23-29), how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! (Italics mine.)
That’s the New Covenant! That is having all things in Christ. That is why we are well—because of Him! You are well because of Him. How often? At all times. You might not know it, you might not feel it because you may be tuned into a commandment, a law, a rule—something that’s going wrong—rather than the gospel and the Spirit, who serves it to you. You are well because of Him.
This is what we serve to each other, because it’s what He’s saying to you today. It’s the New Covenant. It’s good, isn’t it?
Romans 8:18 reads this way: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
What does that mean?
When you receive Jesus, he brings all that He is into you: perfect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control—not eventually, not occasionally, but at all times, at every moment, in every situation. Now. He is the Treasure you’ve been looking for, the Reward for which you long, and the Answer you’ve got to know. And He is in you. Jesus is the solution you want, the success you were made for, and the glory now in you. It’s all Him.
If you’re suffering or enduring hardship as I sometimes do, avoid the temptation to work up more fleshly strength (you’re already exhausted), and beware the thoughts that assign you to the failed scrap heap of humanity. That’s a lie. His glory, the incredible evidence that He lives within you, is best seen through suffering, most obvious in calamity, and most triumphant in hardship. So offer yourself to Jesus. And where is He? That’s where you make the offering—to the inside, to Jesus who has made you His home.
Romans 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God (and He is in you right now) as those who have been brought from death to life (Where is the life? He is on the inside); and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.” (Italics mine.)
Listen for Him. Look for Him. Feel for Him inside of you—with you. This is worth quieting yourself. Pay attention to the thoughts and pictures that play in your mind. Talk aloud to Jesus—you may get reckless or even loud—as you give yourself to Him. You’ll find that He gives Himself to you, and that’s where the life is! Respond to what you feel and to what He reveals, and trust that he loves you far more than He cares about mistakes you might make in the adventure of knowing Him. It’s okay if you’re a sloppy baby with Him now and then; He’s not going to reject you! You’re His baby! If He knows everything, even before it happens, then He knows and has planned for your sloppiness. He doesn’t resent it. Be needy with Him! That’s also where His glory is best seen—in the pressure! In our weakness.
Consider what Paul wrote to the sloppy behaving, perfect vessels for God nevertheless, the pressured sons and daughters at Corinth:
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay (We’re sure fragile, aren’t we?) to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (If God were to show up in a jar of clay, it would be obvious, wouldn’t it? That’s the plan with you and me.) We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 2 Corinthians 4:6-11 (Italics mine)
And what a life that is! God’s life in you and in me, for us to experience and for others to witness. That’s the glory—He is the glory now in you. Finding Him there is the best discovery there is, and it’s the best treasure hunt you’ll ever go on. It’s the hunt for glory, and it’s found in you.
The mind set upon rule keeping and law keeping as a way of living will result in failure, sin and death. You’re going to be a wreck. Romans 7:8 says that sin seizes the opportunities that commandments give! In other words, if you want to see a whole lot of sin and failure in your days, try living by some commandments—any commandments! Just cook a few up and watch what happens. Or you could also try viewing other people by commandments, such as we do regarding our politicians. (“He’s lying!” “She’s lying!”) You’ll have the same result in your life. (Please read Romans 7 and 8. Both are loaded with this.)
Plus, the one making the attempt will go through his days in a perpetual selfie mode. “Do I look good?” “Am I doing it right?” will be at the top of his self-righteous question list, the concern of most every moment. That thinking, that mind, will keep him in failure, as it has for all who have ever attempted it. (It’s Jewish, not Christian.) One thing is fortunate: he will break down. He will weary.
If you meet someone who has wearied of “Selfie Christianity” (“Do I look good?” “Am I doing it right?”), do not condemn him for being messy, inactive, uninvolved, disconnected or passionless. DO NOT.
The Spirit is seeing to it that the one born of Him is abandoning the false and futile focus, and is beginning to look to Jesus as His representative and life—if only a peek to begin with. You and I can assist him with that little look. His hope is actually beginning to grow because it has been exhausted in a false attempt, and must be reborn where it belongs—on Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to produce the life that is His to produce.
He’s beginning to live by believing the truth. His hope is that nothing is demanded of him. All is provided! He lives by faith that Someone Else has done it all. He was crucified with Jesus, and no longer lives—that’s actually true, he just doesn’t know it (See Galatians 2:20). The life he has been attempting—“Selfie Christianity”—is not life, but death. He has unintentionally been bringing a false self to life, if you will allow me that. That cannot work.
The way of life for him—his true hope—is to believe into Jesus, who gave Himself for him, and who lives now on the inside.
How active, how involved, connected and passionate is Jesus? Plenty! And that’s what he will discover.
The mind set upon Him is life and peace—Romans 8 says so. But it’s His life and His peace, not your life made better so your selfies look better. In other words, the mind set upon Jesus is going to find out what life is really like. That’s the hope.
The mind attracted and given to Jesus actually works, which is why you and I love the gospel of Jesus Christ so much—giving it and receiving it. Because Life is an inside production and not an outside parade captured by endless selfies, you’ve got to get off of the Selfie Christianity mode, and get into Jesus and how He is with you.
Why is it important to think about what your nature really is and what the real you is really like—maybe at the start of the day? To answer that, here’s another question: How do we escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires? Have you got any of those? Do we escape corruption by exposing it? Do we escape corruption by becoming a nation of whistle-blowers—everybody ratting on everybody else? Do we escape corruption by imposing penalties and prison sentences? Evidently, no. Not really.
Besides, corruption isn’t the primary problem: it’s the sign of another problem—evil desires. Right? And that’s where you and I are set up for God with us.
Corruption is the process of bribing you or of luring you into doing something unlike you, something crazily different from your true and genuine design. You’re going to feel that! James alluded to this when he wrote in the first chapter of his letter that fleshly, evil cravings begin to drag the real self, the one made by God, toward something unnatural, which then gives birth to corruption and sin—the terrible twist of our design. So how do we interrupt the process?
We escape corruption by participating in God—which is where we are, in Christ—because we have been given His nature now as our own. Don’t miss that because that’s the plan of redemption; not only to make you “good with God,” but to share Himself with you in your day, every day, redeeming the moments, especially the ugly, corrupting ones with you. He is with you in those! You needn’t be embarrassed or shy away from Him during those evil desires. In fact it’s vital that you don’t.
2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate (partake) in the divine nature, and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (Parenthesis mine.)
Talking with or at Jesus, thinking about what He did at the cross and resurrection, asking Him questions—and listening!—singing or taking a walk with Jesus, complaining or whining to Jesus in the midst of junk, these are all ways of participating with Him in everything you experience. Don’t hold anything back, because that’s the set up for Him with you, participating with you, and seeing to it that you escape the result of nasty desires. The desires aren’t the problem! The problem is that we go quiet with God or try to corral them on our own. But that’s not the set up for God and you—God with you.
I know that this is crazy stuff for some people because they don’t see themselves as God sees them. They’ve got a dispute with their own Creator. They think they’re right—right-er than He is. “I know who I am! You’re wrong about me, God!” But on the chance that He might see and know them correctly after all(!) and be able to win that argument, there are a whole lot of us who will keep offering the great gospel because we love Who and what we’ve found: God and our uncorrupted selves. It’s one of the ways we participate with Him, too, and escape the fleshly desires that lead to our corruption, the twist of our perfect design. So we’ll keep serving up the gospel—and I hope you’ll serve it to me, because I’m going to need it, too.
Do you ever wonder what amazing and fantastic verses meant to the people who first wrote them down? How about this one?
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
Think what that must have meant to the apostle Paul, let alone to you and me. I think it drove him fairly crazy with joy! Everything he had long been working for, and sweating and fretting and worrying about concerning his life and standing with God, Paul had been given. For free! Everything.
Paul was a specialist at hard work for God—he had graduate degrees in it, I’m sure. There was no one who was better at working for God’s blessing than Paul. And there was not one moment of work left, not a second of fear over whether or not God was pleased enough with Paul to bless him. God’s blessing, His all-the-time favor, had been entirely dumped on Paul for an entirely unrelated reason:
God wanted to! So He did. And Paul believed Him.
The want to of God—the love of God—compelled God and it still does. I’m so glad. It’s my favorite thing about God. He doesn’t wait for me to deserve His love or for me to be lovable. Oh, I’ve heard the love of God described as a love that “decides” or “chooses” for the benefit of another. And I know we’re all supposed to love like that. I wonder how many times I have heard someone say, “Love is a decision.” The implication is always, “So get busy making decisions.” Well, that has always been my problem! I’m not always good at making good decisions. Haven’t you struggled to make right decisions?! Anyway, the goal of “right decisions” is a good one—better relationships, which is no small thing.
But it seems so calculated. Is that really what motivated God? Is that why God “…blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ”?—because He calculated it? Because He did the math and the idea proved workable? I don’t think so! I know that somewhere “way back when,” God decided to send Jesus to the cross and to raise Him again, bringing us with Him. But was it calculated only?
No way! That’s not the love I know from God. He wants to! And it’s the want that motivates the decision. He’s full of want to! His love is always overflowing to us, and His decision—to give us everything—is in the overflow of the want to.
Imagine Jesus going to the cross thinking, “Well, I suppose this has to be done. After all, Father put it on the road map of history a long time ago, so I have to carry it out.” No way! Hebrews 12:2 tells us that it was for JOY that Jesus did it. God’s love was about to be consummated in the joy of bringing many people to Himself! He did it for love. He wanted to.
That’s why He is always convincing you about what He thinks of you—How good and high it is, and how well off you are with Him. Love is the reason that He spends His time rescuing you from your enemies of doubt and fear and covetousness and lust and unbelief. Because of love, He wants to rescue and comfort you. He really is as good as He says He is with you, the one He loves. As He did for Paul, God has given you everything. He has blessed you with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
So try this: the next time you’re in fairly serious prayer with God, ask, “Father, do I have to worry about asking you to bless me? Is that an everyday decision you make, a moment-by-moment calculation based upon something I do? Or did you already bless me all the way, holding nothing back?” And then be still and listen. He has so much fun answering that, because then you can proceed with being convinced over and over again by God about His love for you . . . and that He’s holding nothing back.
“Really, Father? You’re not kidding? I don’t have to earn anything anymore? I have it already in Christ, and you’ll never change your mind? You really love me that way?” And the answer will always be: “Yes. It’s true, my son. It’s true, my daughter. I’ve held nothing back and I’ll never change my mind.”
All that’s left for us to say is, “Ahhhh. Amen.”
2 Corinthians 1:20 “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.”