One year I gave my young daughter, Amanda, a little jewelry box with a tiny ballerina that danced when the lid was open. I put a small piece of jewelry that she had been requesting for a long time inside the box.
When she opened the gift and saw the jewelry box, she squealed and remarked on every detail. “Oh, Mommy, this is so beautiful! This is the prettiest box I’ve ever seen.”
Eager for her to see all I had for her, I said, “Amanda, open it up.” She opened the box and saw the ballerina twirling to the delicate music.
“Oh, the dancer is so pretty!” she exclaimed, and was about to put the box away when I said, “Amanda, do you see there’s something in there?”
She discovered a tiny drawer and pulled it out carefully. “The pearl earrings I wanted! Oh, thank you, Mommy!” she exclaimed as she ran off to put them on. I sat there thinking, She would have been happy with just the pretty box.
Imagine someone giving you a present. You say, “Thank you so much for the gift. The paper is beautiful, the bow is breathtaking and I will cherish it forever.” Then you put the gift on the table and let it sit unopened. How sad the giver would be after spending time, effort and resources to give it to you.
God gives us first His Son, Jesus, and then the gift of His Holy Spirit. From these two gifts all others flow, for all good things are given to us from God (see Rom. 8:32; James 1:17). Of the many things He gives us, four gifts in particular are essential to our emotional healing, restoration and continued wholeness—love, grace, power and rest.
After I received Jesus I could sense the strong presence of God’s love, and I had no trouble believing He loved everyone. Everyone else, that is. I had a hard time believing He loved me. It took some time of walking with Him and receiving His deliverance before God’s love really sank into my being.
Man’s love is conditional—limited. God’s love is unconditional and unlimited. Human love helps us grow, but God’s love transforms us. It burns away insecurity, limitations and fear.
If you think God couldn’t love you because you’re not worth loving, you have to understand that He loves differently from us. You can do nothing to make Him love you more—and nothing to make Him love you less.
Receiving God’s love means that we don’t have to do desperate things for approval or be depressed when we don’t receive love from other people exactly the way we feel we need it. It takes the pressure off relationships and frees us to be who we were made to be.
If you have doubts about God’s love for you, ask Him to show it to you. The love of God is not just a feeling. Because God is love, just spending time in His presence in prayer and praise causes His love to permeate your being. Opening up and receiving it not only satisfies your needs but also makes you better able to love others, even people for whom you have no natural affinity.
If no matter what you do you still don’t believe God loves you, you may need deliverance from some bondage. Ask Him to show you what it is and to tell you whether you should seek the help of a Christian counselor.
Not As We Deserve
In my early 20s, my lifestyle was determined by my desperate need for love. One disastrous byproduct of this lifestyle was two abortions in less than two years.
When my husband and I later decided to have a baby, months went by, and I didn’t get pregnant. I thought surely I was being punished for the abortions.
“God, I know I don’t deserve to give birth to new life after twice destroying life within me,” I prayed. “But please have mercy and help me to conceive.”
God graciously answered that prayer—not only once, but twice—and gave me my two children as a testimony of His mercy and grace toward me. He gave me what I did not deserve.
Grace comes into effect when God refrains from punishing a person who is guilty. Mercy is God’s compassion for our misery beyond what may be expected. We need both.
If it weren’t for God’s grace and His mercy, we wouldn’t even be saved, for the Bible tells us, “by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:8, NKJV), and “according to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5). Before we met Jesus we were guilty and miserable, but His grace and mercy have saved us.
People who have been abused, rejected or emotionally damaged often find it hard to receive God’s grace and mercy. They also have a harder time extending them to someone else. And one of the stipulations for receiving mercy is giving it to others.
The difficult part of receiving God’s grace and mercy is maintaining a balance between thinking I can do whatever I feel like doing because God’s grace will cover it all and feeling, on the other hand, that everything in my life depends totally on what I do. Neither extreme exemplifies grace and mercy.
Our success depends on God, not on what we do. But we have to act on God’s Word as He reveals it to us and show our love for Him through obedience. This allows Him to enable us to do things we otherwise could not, and it frees Him to bless us in any way He desires.
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