Here’s a fun fact about a group of married men who are in their mid-twenties that get together to talk. There is a 99% chance that the topic of children, whether it’s having them, raising them, etc., will come up.
Recently, I was away for the weekend due to wedding festivities, and it just so happened that three of the men’s wives were bridesmaids - mine included. So, wouldn’t you know it, the three men gathered together, and eventually someone began talking about his children. Throughout the conversation, there was one thing said in particular that made me stop and pause. One of the men was talking about how he interacts with his daughter and how he has begun teaching her about God and the way He loves her. He said a few months ago, he asked his daughter, “Do you know why Daddy loves you?” She replied, “Because I’ve been good?” At that moment, he told us one of the most beautiful, Gospel-filled responses I’ve ever heard. He said, “No. Daddy loves you because you are mine.” *Cue the tears*
Do we not often have the same response when our Heavenly Father asks us the same question? Why is it that we have this belief that God will love us more if we do more, act better, or love harder? We even begin to see this in our individual and collective ministries.
Sometimes, we become so hyper-focused "doing" for the Lord that we start to lose sight of what He has already done for us.
In Luke 10:1-21, Jesus sends out seventy-two disciples to share the gospel in “every town and place where he himself was about to go” (Luke. 12:2). Not only did he have them share the Gospel, but he sent them out with this command:
“Proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay” (Matthew 10:7-8).
After a while, the seventy-two returned, and guess what? They did those things! Can you imagine how exciting and incredible it would be if any of us healed the sick, raised the dead, cleansed lepers, or cast out demons? What an incredible thing it would be to see, and even more to be the one that God did those things through! However, how did Jesus respond to the joy and excitement of the seventy-two reporting back on all that God had done in and through them? He tells them,
“Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
Talk about taking the wind out of your sails. Why would Jesus respond in that way? Isn’t he happy and excited for all the successes in their ministry? Isn’t he proud of all the things that they did? It’s not that Jesus isn’t excited or saying that the seventy-two shouldn’t be joyful about what they had done. Jesus is warning them that you can be more excited about what God is doing through you than what He has done for you.
Let me ask you a question. Do you feel more love and joy in the Lord when your ministry is doing well, when you’ve shared the Gospel with your coworker, or when you’ve made an impact in the community that you’re a part of, or do you feel more love and joy in the Lord when you think about how He has brought you from death to life? Think about this: If you are following Christ, your name has been written in the Book of Life! You get to spend an eternity in Heaven with God, experiencing the fullness of joy!
Don’t get me wrong. We’re still called to minister to those around us and to share our faith. As the writer of Hebrews 12:1 says,
“Run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Let’s not believe the lies that God’s love for us and our joy in the Lord are dependent on our performance. “Do not rejoice in this,” – that ministry is going well or that you’ve read your Bible every day of the week – “but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
So even on the most ordinary of days that you feel like you aren’t living your life on mission or that you need to be doing more, know that something incredible has happened for you. The Father doesn’t love you because you are good. The Father loves you because you are His. Let that be your primary joy, and let that be what drives you to go and do.