God’s love is not for sale. Yet, many of us are still trying to buy His love. It has still not sunk in that God loves us not on the basis of what we do or what we ever could do, but because of whom He is. If God’s love was based on what we do, then why would He have sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins while we were in the depths of our depravity to reconcile us to Him?
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”
– Ephesians 2:4 – 5
The truth is that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus (see Romans 8:38 – 39). Nothing means nothing – nothing we think, feel, say, or do, no amount of works – absolutely nothing! Rather than try to buy God’s love, our aim should be to experience the fullness of His love. Our ability to experience the fullness of His love – his saving power, his riches, covenant blessing and much more – depends on how much we love Him and not how much He loves us.
Light-bulb moment: God’s love is not for sale. The extent to which we experience the fullness of His love depends on one fundamental question. How much do we love God?
Everything that we do – including our obedience and works – should come out of love for God. If it does not, God is not pleased. How do we know this? Well, the bible says that it is impossible to please God without faith (see Hebrews 11:6), and since faith works through love (see Galatians 5:6); anything that we do that does not come out a loving heart does not please God.
Therefore, when we say we are showing our faith by what we do (see James 2:18), that faith is not pleasing to God unless it comes from a heart of love. I want to make it clear that our hearts (not our works) has to be aligned with the heart of God. When our heart is aligned with God’s heart and we take action (do things) to bring Him glory in love, then we unleash the riches of the glory of His inheritance in us (see Ephesians 1: 18).
Let me further explain: The bible says that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Why you ask? This is because whoever seeks Him (in study of His Word and Prayer) will find Him (see Matthew 7:7). When we find God, we find love for He is love (see 1 John 4:8). As we begin to grow in the knowledge of His love (which comes as we seek Him more), then our love for Him grows (see 1 John 4:8). As our love for Him grows, our faith in Him grows. It is this faith that works through love that leads to obedience, and it is obedience that unlocks the covenant blessings that Jesus has made available to us through His sacrifice on the cross.
With that being said, anything we say we do for God that is not out of love is mainly out of three things: fear, pride, and selfishness. God is not pleased with that no matter how good it looks to man. For example, if I give to charity only to lower my taxes and not because I have a heart for the hurting (which is God’s heart), I have acted for selfish gain. Man may be pleased with what I have done, but God is not. While we can fool other people, we cannot fool God. He sees beyond our actions and into our heart intentions.
So I am not saying that we should not give to charity because our hearts is not right! Instead, what I am saying is that we should always be cognizant of our heart intentions so that we may ask God to change our hearts as necessary.
Here are two questions I now often ask myself and I think are good questions to ask:
Are my actions based on what God has placed in my heart or is it to please man or achieve a selfish need?
Am I obeying just to tick the box of obedience to the law (so to buy God’s favor and blessings) or is my obedience coming out of genuine love?
When we experience God’s love, we stop fearing and then are free to love God with all our hearts.
Food for Thought: I put myself in bondage of the law when I try to buy love that is freely available
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” – Matthew 9:12.
In the next verse, Jesus goes on to explain that the sick He is talking about are sinners who He has come to heal. As sinners, we are all sick. Our malady is a cancer called depravity which if left untreated consumes our being and eventually leads to death.
Jesus on the other hand is the master physician who is forever on call ready to operate on any man who visits Him in His Hospital – the hospital being God. For those that visit, He performs major surgery of salvation and they are made well.
Unfortunately, many never visit the hospital either because they have never heard of it or because of abject pride and stubbornness even in the face of the degeneration caused by their cancer. For those of us that have had major surgery performed, we cannot forget that we need to go in for our check-ups to so that our depravity does not return. Our daily check-up ought to consist of the following:
Spending time with God by reading His Word and Praying (see Romans 12:2)
Testing ourselves to ensure we are in the faith and testing the spirits to ensure we are following the Holy Spirit (see 2 Corinthians 13:5 and 1 John 4:1)
Obeying the Holy Spirit regardless of what we feel or think (see John 15:10)
If you are one of those stellar patients that go in to see Doc Jesus often, wonderful! Sadly, you are the exception rather than the rule. The rest, I have categorized into three major classes:
“Out” Patient (listen here) Quite simply, these are folks that have the major surgery of salvation but never schedule a check-up but wait until the depravity cancer returns before they go back to the hospital. As such, they have the ravages of multiple surgeries on their being and are solely reliant on the grace and mercy of God in keeping them alive. Yes, they are alive but are never thriving nor are they bearing fruit the way God intended. Here are some questions to ponder to determine if you are an “Out” patient:
Do you go to church only on during the religious holidays (Easter Sunday and Christmas)?
Do you seek God only after trouble ensues in your life?
Do you quote (or rather misquote) the scripture out of context to justify your disobedience? For example, I have heard some people say: “Well, the bible says we will always have the poor with us” as a reason never to help a soul in need.
Such a one who is an out-patient does not understand the extent of the love of God for them. If they did, they would never choose such to so under-utilize the power which has been made available to them in Christ.
Paramedic (listen here) These are the people that have a great zeal for Jesus. You can always find them in the field providing emergency assistance. They love telling people about Jesus and love bringing people into the hospital to meet Doc Jesus, but they themselves forget to enter the hospital. They never fail to schedule an appointment but are just too busy to make it; they are always tired and burnt out but feel fulfilled by their job. These paramedics are lauded by everyone and are the heroes of the community.
For these paramedics, the cancer of the heart (self-righteousness) slowly creeps in. Still they refuse to keep their appointment because they are just too busy doing God’s work. At the end of the year, they say to Jesus with a smile of their face, ‘Remember me? I brought you 1000 patients this year’. To this Jesus replies: ‘I do not remember you. It’s true that I saw your patients, but I never saw you’.
While it is an incredible calling to be a paramedic, we never want to be counted as part of those that never make their check-up. Yes, Jesus cares about what we do for people and that we love them, but he also cares about us and our relationship with Him first and foremost. He calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves, not more than ourselves, and certainly not more than we love him!
Light-bulb moment: Our calling should never become our idol by taking the place of God!
Jesus warns us about idolizing our calling in the following passages:
“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ “And then I will declare to them. ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ – Matthew 7:22 -23 (NKJV)
Here are some questions to test if you have become a cancer-laden paramedic
Do you often think to yourself: “Wow, I am a great Christian and a great warrior for Christ”
Do you always try to fix everyone and everything?
Are you mainly driven by what people think rather than what God thinks?
Do you find no fault in yourself and think you are always right?
Are you always trying to teach people a lesson?
Is it always your way or the highway?
Waiting-Room Patient (listen here) Lastly, waiting room patients are those that schedule a check-up, go to the hospital, but never see the doctor. They never allow Jesus to examine and uproot every single unsavory area of their lives. They feel good about being in the hospital and fool themselves that it is all that matters. They are perpetually encouraging those who are being operated on, bringing flowers, and praying for them. They themselves are getting sicker but they just cannot see it – since after all, they are already in the hospital!
When someone asks the question, how come you have no victory over this issue although you have been seeing the specialist for a long time now? The waiting room patient always has a reason. They say: well, it is my childhood, it is my hurts, I am a victim of circumstance etc. The most popular statement which no one can argue with is: I am waiting on God.
While waiting on God is the best thing to do, what the waiting room patient refuses to acknowledge is that in reality, Jesus is waiting on them. He is waiting on them to fully surrender to Him!
A waiting room patient is extremely difficult to recognize because they blend in perfectly with actual visitors (not patients) who are in the waiting room. In fact, the waiting room patient may not realize he or she is a waiting room patient. This is because the malady of the waiting room patient is the lack of total surrender in all things – especially in areas where unbelief exist. To everyone else, the waiting room patient is a prayer warrior who is a consummate church-goer and is such an encourager that everyone loves when they are around. Unfortunately, there is a deeper problem – lack of full surrender.
Light-bulb moment: We should never be stuck in the stage of “experiencing” God (hospital), but rather grow in God through complete surrender to Jesus (the surgeon) so that we may have complete victory over all that maligns us.
Here are some testers to see if you have inadvertently become a waiting room patient:
Do you never realize the promise of God in your life and you do not know why?
Do you twist every thought and situation to make it fit what you believe?
Do you use “If only” somewhat frequently?
Do you find it very hard to forgive and reconcile or say “I am sorry”?
Are you always the victim?
Do you find yourself becoming judgmental?
If you are like me, then you see that the traits of the out-patient, the paramedic, and waiting-room patient try to creep in from time to time. Never fear, it is the devil trying to sneak in. He always tries but thankfully he has no victory. Recognize your tendency, discipline yourself, and surrender your inadequacies to God.
Food for Thought: A check-up a day keeps the cancer away
“…but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him” – 1 John 5:18