You can’t earn God’s love. That is a truth that we regularly hear in church. We know that sentiment to be true. We know that scripture is littered with passages that speak to this. Our salvation is based on Christ’s work on the cross, not our own. As Christians, this is what we believe. Then why are we so bad at living it out?
There’s something that is seared into our brains that tells us that even though we did nothing to obtain God’s love, we’re going to lose it if we don’t do enough. I think that this is something that we all struggle with from time to time, I know I do. Somehow, I get the idea that my works become the chief qualifier to receive God’s grace. I start thinking that if I do more, the happier he’ll be with me. I just need to pray more, spend more time in scripture, do more for the church, give more, etc. Do these thoughts ever creep into your mind?
There’s nothing wrong with doing more for God. However, when our heart behind the doing is just to make him happy, then we miss the mark. It’s not about the ritual and requirements, it’s about the relationship. We get so caught up in the doing for God, we forget about being with God.
Just think about the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. Martha was so obsessed with making everything look perfect for Jesus that he sat in her house and she didn’t spend any time with him. Mary, on the other hand, “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” (V. 39) Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen what was “better.”
God wants us to focus on our relationship with him. The only way to grow in a relationship with someone is to spend time with them. My wife Ali and I hit it off from the get-go. We fell in love almost instantly. The crazy thing is that how I first felt about her doesn’t compare to how I feel about her now. The more time I spend with her, the deeper I fall in love. It’s the same with our relationship with God. The more time we spend with him, the more we will fall in love with him.
Doing things for God is never a bad thing. We should all strive to be doing good works, Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we were, “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” Those works aren’t so that we can gain God’s love, but rather so that we can show God’s love. It’s when we shift our mindset to this that we no longer see works as an obligation but as an opportunity. We don’t need to focus on earning God’s love because he’s already given it to us. Instead, we should focus on being with him and let everything else flow out of that. You are loved by God, rest in that unfailing love.