Love. Love is a multifaceted concept that we’ve been taught for years and have become accustomed to. The book of 1st Corinthians 13 explains that “Love is patient, Love is kind…” and we say this all the time. But going down the passage, I was struck by something that we usually don’t get to when “reciting” this passage of scripture. “Love… keeps no record of wrong doing”. When I first read this, I figured that this was just a forgive-and-forget-those-who-wrong-you lesson, but the Holy Spirit drew my attention even closer to it, and I saw that it wasn’t about them. Not really — It was first, and most importantly, about Me and Him… about You and Him.
Over the years, a lot of us have been taught primarily about the God of Rules and Punishment. You know… the Old Testament, fire-and-brimstone God. And to be honest, this used to scare me like crazy. I remember being younger, and having a slight "problem" with lying, as most young kids do. At that age, the Truth sometimes feels flexible, and every time I “bent it” (Read: Lied), I used to be afraid to pray. I’d feel so terrible with endless thoughts of “Oh no, I’m a sinner”, and “Oh no, my name has been removed from the Book of Life! I’m now in His bad books.” — these thoughts would go on forever in my young mind, and so I’d “hide” from God, and not talk to Him. In my head, I needed to give God some space to cool off. See, saying ”I’m sorry” every now and then was starting to sound like a routine, and I began to feel as though God was rolling His eyes, saying “Here we go again” every time I came to confess my sins and seek His forgiveness.
Thinking about this 12 years later, it’s tragic, but still slightly funny. What’s even more saddening is that this same thing still happens today, in the lives of several believers. It may not be happening in the exact same way as it did to me, but it happens nonetheless. Have you ever found yourself second-guessing prayer because of that “thing” you’d done? Have you found it hard to connect to God because of something you’ve been holding over your head that’s got you feeling “unworthy”? Have you fallen victim to your own righteous indignation... holding yourself up to an unattainable ideal of what you think a “good Christian” ought to be? Or are you of the impression that God loves you the most when you’re at your best? Well, think again!
See, He is not the Lord of Condemnation. He is a God who loves us to a degree that would literally blow our minds if we tried to imagine it. He is patient, kind… and keeps no record of our wrong doing. There is no “bad book”. God is not petty. And that’s why when we were yet sinners, and didn’t know (or care!) about Him, He still didn’t give up on us. On the contrary, He played what’s arguably the riskiest game ever played — He sent Jesus His only Son, to die for us, a gargantuan display of unbridled Love that changed the world forever.
When it comes to God, we come first. When God sees you, (and trust me, He sees you!) He first sees someone who He loves and wants unconditionally, before He is remotely concerned with your little sin.
Romans does an amazing job at explaining this;
“The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture… I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”
Romans 8:31-39 MSG
God’s love is perfect! Therefore, not us, or our myriad sins, can taint it. Nothing you can say, do, or even think, can ever separate you from His love. Most Christians have no trouble believing that God loves them, but still fall short of the second, equally important, aspect of this equation — Self-Love!
God, our Father, is Love, which inherently, makes Us, His Children, love as well.
And so, as little loves, we should keep no record of wrong doing, particularly OURS. So please, get rid of that book in your head where you record all the “bad things” that you’ve done. Tear it up into tiny cute little pieces, and burn it! There’s a thin line between Religion and Relationship. Jesus gave His life for us to have a chance at Heavenly Relationship, and no relationship will ever thrive if there’s a ledger of documented wrong-doing piling up against either party.
Here’s what the bible says;
“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. ”
1 John 3:18-24 MSG
We see here that God instructs us to love ourselves. Self-love is so important. It’s one thing for God to love us, but if we are too busy doubting the totality of His love, doubting our worthiness, keeping files on all the things we’ve done wrong, it becomes difficult (no, impossible!) to actually bask in this amazing love.
God’s love makes us whole, and enables us to live in peace and freedom. As a result, His Grace (a by-product of His Love), carries us above the things that make us stumble.
So smile, because it’s okay. He knows you and your imperfections, and He still loves you. He knows about your shortcomings, and He still loves you. He knows about that thing you haven’t been able to forgive yourself for, and He still loves you. In the passage above, John says that God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. He just wants you to come to Him… to leave it all behind, receive His Love, rest in it, and let it transform you.
You don’t have to “try”, because you’d more than likely fail if you do it on your own. Forgiveness, profound Peace, a second chance, and a relationship with our Father, have all been bought and paid for by the Blood of Jesus. So you don't have to work for it, only RECEIVE it. We have to learn to shed our fears, and embrace a true and honest relationship with God, talking to Him about our “challenges” and receiving the Grace to overcome them.
Next time you feel unworthy, scared, or thoughts of condemnation come creeping in… Just take a moment to remember this — God loves YOU, flaws and all. Even when we stumble, His Love is readily available to always pick us up… And by loving ourselves, we allow Him do exactly that.