I have lived a good portion of my life in what I call the “performance trap”. I used to feel that I would never be good enough to receive the love of God. Every waking hour I felt a sense of guilt because I thought I was frustrating God with my lackluster performance. To deal with the guilt, I would either work tirelessly for God’s affection or I would shut down completely because I was tired of failing time and time again.
But life inside of the trap of God’s grace is the opposite. In the trap of grace, we start to realize that whether we make mistakes or obey God perfectly, He still loves us the same. During our entire process of growing, He never removes one ounce of His affection from us!
Breakfast in bed
Having children has helped me understand on a finite level the Father’s love for me. Let me give you an example. One time when I was sleeping in, my daughter Izabelle wanted to surprise Elicia and me with breakfast in bed. After she made toast and diced up fresh fruit, she pulled orange juice out the refrigerator and attempted to pour it into small porcelain teacups.
When she tried pouring the juice into the teacups, somehow her hand slipped and she spilled the juice all over the kitchen table. The scurrying of little feet in the kitchen aroused my curiosity, and I rose out of the bed to head downstairs. I found Izabelle hiding behind a mountain of soggy paper towels in the kitchen. I called out for her, and at first she didn’t answer. Once again I called out for her by name, and this time all she did was begin to cry out loud.
God’s love for me does not increase when I do right, or decrease when I do wrong.
I walked over to her and gave her a hug, which made her start crying harder! Befuddled, I asked her what was wrong. “I just wanted to surprise you by making breakfast for you,” she said, “and I spilled the orange juice and made a mistake and couldn’t clean it up before you came into the kitchen.” Seeing that her heart was broken, I looked her in the eyes and said, “Baby girl, it was just a mistake. Everything is fine. Now, let’s both clean up this mess.” Her tears stopped as I began to wipe them away. We cleaned up the mess and enjoyed a nice meal together, just the two of us.
That moment will forever be etched in my mind because I realized—that’s how my loving heavenly Father responds to me when I make an honest mistake or even blatantly disobey Him. God’s love for me does not increase when I do right or decrease when I do wrong. As Jude informs us, those who are “loved by God the Father” are being “kept by Jesus Christ” (verse 1). What a power-packed verse!
We are loved by God and kept in Christ!
Jude wrote the two verbs “loved” and “kept” in the perfect tense and passive voice. This tense and voice assures us that at some point in eternity past God began to love us, and His love for us from that point throughout all of eternity will remain steady, unwavering, and unconditional. In addition, because it is passive, I constantly receive His affection with every breath that I breathe, and I do not have to work for it!
God articulates this liberating truth to His children throughout the New Testament. He loves us before, during, and after we make our sinful and honest mistakes. And just like my daughter when she heard me coming into the kitchen, we naturally try to hide from our Father out of embarrassment when we make a mistake. Yet, when we look at the reality of
1 John 1:8-10, we are confronted by the fact that, because of the person and work of Jesus, we who have embraced Him as Savior can go to God directly and lay our sins before Him. He is both faithful and just to forgive us.
From the book "Bound to Be Free" by D.A. Horton