We’ve got your daily encouragement, written by Kelly Bryant.
1 John 4:19
“We love because he first loved us.”
“Earned not given” is a popular phrase in the sports and fitness world. It’s a phrase that acknowledges the hard work it takes to achieve accomplishments in sport. It separates the weekend warrior from those who build a lifestyle around how they train, eat, recover, and even how they think. It’s a philosophy that disdains participation trophies and “handouts.” It indicates that the leaderboard rewards those who put in the work.
While “earned not given” can be a motivating force for athletic performance, it’s dangerous when we try to apply this philosophy to our relationship with God. You see, when it comes to God’s love, the phrase should read “given not earned.” There’s absolutely nothing we can do in our human effort to diminish or increase our heavenly Father’s love for us. It’s a given. He loved you before you acknowledged Him. He loved you when you were actively running away from Him. He loves you if you’re serving and giving and reading the Bible for 30 minutes each day. But He also loves you if you aren’t doing any of those things.
It’s hard for our human minds to comprehend a love that comes with no strings. I think perhaps the best analogy we have in this world is the love of a parent for their child. Parents love their babies before they are even born. They keep loving their child for years despite only getting poopy diapers, scattered toys, and sleep deprivation in return. Yet it’s in the early years of a child’s life that the foundation for love and connection is built.
When parent’s love their children first, their children learn how to love. We have the capacity to love only because God gave us His love first- before we could earn it and before we knew we needed it. Instead of trying to perform to win God’s love and approval, embrace the fact that He always has and always will love you. Allow your service to God and others to come from the overflow of His love, not from your effort to prove yourself worthy.
Father, thank you for loving me. It’s a gift I don’t deserve and could never earn. Allow your love to work in my life so that my actions reflect your love. I don’t want to do right out of selfish ambition or working for approval. I want to grow into the person you created me to be by embracing your love and letting love lead my steps. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Think about the things you do to serve God. Are you doing those things out of love, or do you do those things in order to gain love or approval from God or others? If you’re trying to earn God’s love by your actions, take a step back. Find ways to express your love for God that don’t seek attention. It’s a relationship, not a leaderboard!
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