I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer. But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens. (Psalm 50:8-9)
Relate: My dad used to turn the word grace into an acronym. When he explained the concept he would say grace stands for God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Recently I have been working my way through re-memorizing some books of the New Testament I learned way beck in high school and my early college years. Between that first time and today the NIV has been updated. The biggest change is one of neutering language. Instead of man, men, and mankind, it will now use human, people, and humanity. Where it used to say brothers, it now says brothers and sisters. I agree with those but I am not a fan of them turning “brotherly love” into “mutual affection”.
I have also noticed that on some occasions it has turned the word grace into favor. In both James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 what I first learned as “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” now reads “God opposes the proud but shows favor the the humble”. Part of me doesn’t like that change, but I do understand why they did it. Grace has become one of those theological words everyone uses but they don’t really think about what it means. Often I find it used interchangeably with mercy. In case you have been guilty of this let me clear the waters for you. Grace means we do get what do not deserve. Mercy means we do not get what we do deserve. Grace means God’s favor is poured out. Mercy means His wrath is withheld.
React: Because of the grace and mercy of God there are two truths we must all learn. 1) Nothing I can ever do can possibly make God love me more. 2) Nothing I can ever do can possibly make God love me less. God does not need my good works.
Praying more is something I need to to, but it is not something God needs from me. God is not going to be more likely to hear me and respond if I pray for two hours rather than two minutes. However, praying more just might position my heart and attitude and ears to the place where I can hear and respond to God’s answer. God doesn’t need my prayers, I do.
Giving more will not make God richer. He isn’t up in heaven thinking to Himself, “I really want to bless that church. If only someone would put a little more in the offering plate so that I have more to work with.” He doesn’t need my gift. I need to give my gift. When I give more to God I learn to trust Him more and to hold more loosely to the things of this world. Then I will be better positioned to grab hold of what He is ready to shower down on me.
God doesn’t need my good works. He isn’t impressed with my efforts. Nothing I can ever do could ever make Him love me more or less. However, everything that I do is causing me to love Him more or less. He doesn’t need me to do good works. I need me to do good works.
God, I give You my life. I give You my everything. I don’t do this so that I can earn anything from You. You already have more than I can possibly imagine and have poured out on me far more than I could ever deserve. Your grace has and continues to shower favor on me and blesses me so much more than I even realize. Thank You, God. You have already given me so much. Help me to let go of the things I hold so tightly to so that I can receive what You are offering to me.