Weekly Wisdoms for the week of April 20, 2015
God is love (1 John 4:8). God doesn't have to pretend to love you; He can't not love you, because He is love.
In fact, the very actions of God exemplify what love is. The apostle John explains that this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us (1 John 3:16). Only a few verses later, he further defines love: This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:9).
Notice that God's love for you is independent of how you behave, who you are, or how you respond to that love.
Romans 5:6-8 reminds us that God loves us regardless of where we are: You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Jesus represents God's love for us in what we now call the Parable of the Prodigal Son (see Luke 15:11-24). In that allegory, the father openly and lovingly receives his son even though the son had run away, squandered all of his money, and insulted the father. In the same way, God loves us unconditionally.
There is nothing you can do to get God to love you -- He already does. There is nothing you can do to deserve God's love, because, by sinning, you have turned your back on God and are fundamentally no different than the prodigal son. That parable is a clear reminder that God loves you not because of what you do, but because of who He is.
A testimony is often a way of sharing what God has done in a person's life. However, in order to have a testimony there almost always was a test through which that person had to persevere.
It is, therefore, understandable that we are told to rejoice during trials -- not because of the trials themselves, but because of the end result of the trials. In James 1:2-4, we are told, Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. In other words, we can have joy during trials, because we know that they help make us mature and complete -- they refine us into the person God wants us to be.
A few verses later (in James 1:12), we are told the reward of enduring difficult times: Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
The challenging events that we go through are what refine us and make us more like Christ. Indeed, 1 Peter 1:6-7 says that one of the purposes of going through grief and trials is so that our faith can grow and be proven genuine.
Therefore, a real testimony of growing in faith and becoming like Christ requires going through a test. So, instead of despising your tests and trials, look forward to your testimony; after all, you can't have a testimony without a test.
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