7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
After seeing that we are, timeless, priceless, part of a greater picture and we are an original we now come to the fifth declaration:
- I am lovable
I met my wife Angel in college and after dating for several months we came to our first time apart when at Christmas break I headed back home to Africa. Knowing that we would be apart for many weeks and without any way to communicate, it was way back before e-mail, I decided to write her a letter for every day that we were apart. Each day we were apart she got to open up an envelope and read a new letter filled with my love for her. She still has that stack of love letters. That’s what God’s word is to us a colossal collection of love letters from the Creator to His children. Have you read His letter of love to you? Can you imagine if Angel had never opened my letters and never read about my love for her? That is how many of us are living, we have the greatest love letter of all time and we have never opened it up to hear about God’s lavish love. You need to read it, because if you don’t you will never realize how much you matter to God, and how much you are loved by Him? One of the most famous verses in the Bible tells us about this truth, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world (who’s in the world?), that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him, should not perish but have eternal life.” You are loved by God, but when was the last time you dwelt on this truth and when was the last time you shared this truth with those around you. This week I want to challenge you to tell ten people that they are loved. Isaiah 54:10 reminds us: “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken.” The grace of God assures us that there is nothing we can do that will cause God to love us any more or any less. His love is unfailing, which means that when we wake in the morning, we don’t have to wonder if God loves us. Many times we don’t feel very lovable and so we hold back from the Lord’s love. But let me encourage you that no matter where you are or what you have done God longs to love you, the great question is will you let Him love you? Not only are we loveable but the next declaration is this:
- I am a work in progress.
This is probably the most challenging declaration first because we are impatience. We tend to forget that we are a work in progress and so we expect and demand perfection from ourselves. We get impatient with our personal progress especially during those times when we find ourselves overtaken by sin. But there is a balance in the Christian life that we need to not only recognize but accept, and that is, we are sinners in the process of sanctification. While we are positionally holy, set free from every sin by the blood of Christ we know that we still sin, as 1 John 1:10 states. That’s why the Bible also refers to sanctification as a practical experience of our separation unto God. Progressive sanctification is the effect of obedience to the Word of God in one’s life. The truth is that we are sinning saints who someday will leave this world of sin behind. Paul pointed to the truth that we are a work in progress in Philippians 3:12-14 12 “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Coming to grips with this truth helps us to deal with our failure and our tendency to letting our impatience push God’s work. We need to remember that God is working at His pace, not ours. The second challenge is found in the area of criticism. Not only do we become impatient with our progress but we tend to forget that other people are works in progress. As a result, we are often critical when it comes to others. We are quick to say “Be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.” But do we apply this same truth to others? The same work that God needed to do, or may still need to do in you is the same work that He needs to do in others. Often we are way too quick to criticize others, and when we do we are actually being critical of God’s work in their lives. We are like Peter who just two minutes after affirming that Jesus was God went on to be critical of Christ’s plan to die on the cross. Jesus’ response to this criticism was to say “Get behind me, Satan!” We need to start replacing our critical spirit with a Christian one. When we find that critical spirit creeping up we need to say, “Get behind me, Satan!” Many of us get frustrated with others yet how long did it take for us to get it, and why did it take so long? What if others had given up on you and criticized you. One of the reasons it has taken a while for me to get it and grow in a particular area in my Christian walk is because I was thick headed and stubborn. But God in His mercy and grace didn’t give up on me. Instead of criticizing and looking down on others we can come alongside and encourage them. What areas are you growing in, where do you need to make progress? Who do you need to come alongside and champion instead of criticizing?