Christians often and rightly look forward to the reward we have in Christ. We love to think and dream about heaven. We sing songs about it, read books on it, and long for the day we get to be with Christ in glory. I’ve heard some Christians contrast these thoughts of heaven with a kind of heaviness of their lives here and now. They often bemoan their current condition and will even question God’s desire for them in their present state. Many Christians that I’ve known, including myself, struggle to understand how God views us as His children. We often view God as simply tolerating us until we get to heaven. In other words, we often think that God will finally make us likeable in heaven because He won’t have to deal with our mistakes. In the meantime, we continue to be an inconvenient disappointment to Him. Beloved Child, God is not simply tolerating you, and you are not a disappointment to Him.
He Chose Us
Paul’s words in verse 4 should be a healing balm to our tortured hearts. We so often want to pit our behavior against God’s feelings for us. We feel proud and pleased when we are “doing well,” so naturally we believe that God feels the same way towards us. When we are not doing well, we often believe that God is upset with us and will most likely punish us at some point or stop talking to us because we’ve done something wrong. What we forget in both our moments of pride and our moments of regret is that God has not loved us because of anything we have done. We didn’t figure out how to get love from Him by our behavior or our choices. He chose us. When we were dead in our trespasses, He chose us. When we were lost in our sin, He chose us. When we were at war and in open rebellion against Him, He chose us. And if He chose us despite our behavior, we will not lose His love because of our behavior.
Inheritance in the Saints
Many people know or are at least willing to articulate God’s love for them. They are often quite confident in His love. But as we’ve already uncovered, we too often base God’s love on our own behavior or goodness. God loves us as we are for no other reason than He wants to. God loves to love His children. He does not give His love to His children begrudgingly and He does not withhold it at any time. God’s love for those who believe is ever-present in its fullness. It does not wax or wane. He delights in us (Zephaniah 3:17). And He will delight in us for eternity. Paul says that God thinks of us as “riches” and a “glorious inheritance.” This is how God thinks of His children. This should humble us, ignite praise within us, and lead us to self-denying service of Him.
All this love – all this grace – all this overlooking of our sin and rebellion is only possible through the work of Christ. Eleven times in chapter 1, Paul writes that what we receive in the grace of God is received in or through Christ. We do not obtain or earn any of it. Christ has done the work that we could not and would not do on our own. Because of Christ’s wrath-absorbing sacrifice, we are able to walk in the love and delight of a holy God. We cannot boast in being chosen or in our position as chosen because we have not accomplished it. Christ has. When we are in Him – submitting ourselves to His commands out of love for Him – we have hope in this life and will receive the reward of heaven. God has caused us to be saved through the work of Christ and chosen us to receive love and grace.
Live in this truth. There is no greater calling than to walk every day in this Gospel. We will be tempted to stray. Our feelings will doubt His love. Our circumstances will distract us from it. May we trust His Word to us and cease our striving to earn His love. The cross of Christ stands as the reminder that we are wanted.