I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
By Yodit Kifle Smith
Have you ever known a person whom you felt like you had to walk on eggshells whenever you were around them? Perhaps it was someone who held a higher position that intimidated you, so you never felt like you could speak what was on your mind. Or someone whom you felt like you never knew what mood they were in so you were cautious with your words and actions for fear of offending them.
I have, and let me tell you, it’s not fun. It’s actually quite exhausting to be so aware of yourself around a person for fear of being perceived a certain way that you couldn’t enjoy their presence. You are constantly forced to play a guessing game. Do they like me? Are they mad at me? Did I say something that could have offended them? Can I say this? Can I laugh at that?
Whether this person is an acquaintance or an actual friend, it’s clear that this kind of relationship isn’t based on authenticity. Rather, it’s one confined by misunderstanding and fear. And it’s safe to say that these kinds of relationships aren’t ones that flourish.
How many of us have approached God in the same way because of our own misunderstanding and fear? I struggled in my early years as a believer with trusting that God really loved me. I had this image in my head that every time I messed up, He was marking points on some chart. It was quite the roller coaster. Like me, some of you may currently be walking on eggshells around God because you think He’s constantly mad at you for your sin or because you haven’t been in His Word or prayer. Some of you feel like you are playing a guessing game with Him: Does He love me? Does He forgive me? Does He really have a purpose for me? Sure, you may not ask these questions out loud but you’ve allowed them to shape your relationship with Him. And then you ask why your relationship with Him isn’t flourishing.
If our relationship with God is going to flourish, it starts with what we think and believe about Him, not just shaped by experience, but foundationally shaped by the truth of His Word. The soil of our heart has to have the seed of His Word (1 Peter 1:23) rooted so that it grows in the knowledge and grace of God (2 Peter 3:18).
A flourishing relationship with God knows and grows in these truths:
God doesn't just love us. He likes us.
How many of us have heard the saying “I love you but I don’t have to like you?” If we are honest, it actually seems easier to believe that we are loved by God because He’s obligated to love us, but harder to believe that He likes us. Maybe we experienced that from people but God is not man that we should equate our experiences of people into our perception of Him. God created us in His image (Genesis 1:27). He took joy in breathing life into us so that we would enjoy Him forever. We know that sin caused the chasm between us, but because of Christ, we are given a way back to our intended place. He didn’t do that because He tolerated us. He did that because yes, He loved us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8), but because He, too, wanted to enjoy the presence of His image bearers. He likes your presence.
Our sins don’t disqualify us.
One of the most damaging misconceptions of Christianity is that once you are a Christian, you no longer sin. So, when you do sin, it’s as if you broke a contract and are no longer able to be restored. Shame and guilt become the loudest voices and they keep us away from God or they keep us from feeling free in God. This couldn’t be furthest from the truth.
Being a Christian isn’t about being sinless. It’s about being His. And being His means accepting the free gift of salvation He offers us by repentance and faith. We repent because He’s opened our eyes to see the ugliness of our sin against a Holy God. And in repentance, we receive forgiveness. And the truth is Jesus broke the power of sin over us, meaning sin no longer has the power to separate us from God because of the finished work on the cross (Heb 2:14). However, He didn’t take away the ability to not sin from us. Rather, He give us His grace to flee from sin (Titus 2:12). This grace abounds not so we can keep sinning but by His Spirit, we are enabled to love God more than our sin and we become quicker to flee from sin than we are to contemplate it or justify it.
Our works don’t qualify us.
It wasn’t until I began to spend time in His Word and read the truth of the Gospel that thinking I could “earn” God, who is love and who is Holy, was actually insulting to Him. It completely minimized the work of the cross done on my behalf so that I could be in right standing with God—not because of anything I was remotely capable of doing or wanted to do but because of Jesus. Thinking that I can impress God with doing right was reducing His standards far below what they actually are. Rather than putting my complete trust in His infinite Holiness that I could never attain, I thought I could merit God’s love and approval. Being rooted in the Gospel frees us from the false security of our own ability to merit God’s anything. It will free us to live in the true joy that we are His and we are kept by Him (Jude 1:25).
We can come bold, but not be arrogant.
We can never forget or neglect the Holiness of God. It’s His Holiness that allows us to marvel at the depth of love and grace that’s been extended to us so we can have fellowship with Him. So, while we don’t walk on eggshells around Him because we can now approach His throne of grace with boldness and confidence in our time of need, (Hebrews 4:16) because of Christ, it doesn’t mean we come arrogantly, assuming His grace or mercy. We come with reverence that a Holy God has shown us great mercy by not counting our sins against us (Romans 4:8). We come with thankfulness that our shame and guilt has been taken away. And we come with a desire to serve Him rather than wanting Him to serve us. But, nonetheless, we can come because we are His children and He is our Father.
Sisters, next time you are tempted to believe the lies of the enemy, remember these truths that free you. We don’t have to walk on eggshells with God. We don’t have to guess what He thinks about us. We don’t have to feel ashamed of our sin. We don’t have to feel like our works aren’t enough. No, we can be assured where we stand with God because of the love He displayed for us through the Gospel. And we don’t earn God’s love. In fact, you will never find security in a love that was earned. What a blessed assurance we have in Him!
The weekly devotionals seek to encourage you to dig deeper into Scripture as you take the time to daily read, meditate, and internalize the verses in the devotional, along with the passages provided below to give greater context. Take the time to read them throughout the week (repetition is important) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp what God is showing you about Himself, about you, and how to live in light of these truths.
Passages to read/memorize/meditate:
1 Peter 1:23
2 Peter 3:18
Questions to Reflect on: