We learn it as children. We perfect it as adults. “If I do enough, they’ll accept me, admire me, affirm me, and love me.” From a “naughty or nice” equation that equals the number of gifts under the Christmas tree to a “he said if I ever gained ‘that much weight’ again he’d leave me” kind of partnership – earning our way and proving our love has created hindrances and barriers that have stymied our growth and waylaid our relationships. How often we get buried in the “if only’s.” If only I was a little bigger, stronger, thinner, smarter, wealthier, careful, cheerful, successful, holy, good, edgy, pretty, handsome, hipster, (you fill in the blank), then … then my parent, sibling, child, spouse, boss, significant other, relative, co-worker, neighbor, bowling buddy, business partner, best friend, e-friend, (place a name here), would accept me, admire me, affirm me, love me, or (a verb of your choosing here) me. What a mess. And what a bunch of “hooey” we’ve bought, swallowed, and passed on.

Our perpetuated faulty living and “stinkin’ thinkin’” perhaps is most erroneous when it comes to relating to God. Far too many of us believe in theory and practice that God will love us … if only. And when we don’t get it just right or don’t measure up to an unreachable standard, we assume that God is more disappointed in us than even we are in ourselves. We conclude that God must roll His eyes when looking our way, and that He speaks in disparaging and unaffectionate tones when, if ever, He mentions our name. And so the music plays on in our head to the tune of thinking that if somehow, some way, we can manage to clean up our act, get it right, and do enough this time, the God who never thought much of us might actually begin to think differently of us, possibly be pleased with us, and maybe even like us a little … if only. Nothing can be further from the truth of the gospel.

Romans 5:8 tells us, “but God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” God saw you in your lowest, most miserable state – and he sees you now. And here’s the good news – His opinion of you has never changed no matter what the movement from “there” to “here.” Muck and mire or missions and majesty – God dotes over you the same. His loving position has never changed. It’s our perspective that needs realigned to the truth of a God who is “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8).

Since God has already proven His love for us, maybe it’s time to stop trying so hard to prove our worth to Him. Maybe it’s time to stop striving, earning, and “if’n” and start relaxing, receiving, and responding to the lavish love and grace God offers and daily invites us to receive.

If you’re in need of a fresh perspective of a God who sings over you, here’s a song and video that might be just what you need today: “The Father’s Song” by Matt Redman

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