I’ve got a friend who, when he sees people with a sour face, likes to say, “Smile! God’s in a good mood.” It usually takes them a second to hear what he said, then they laugh or smile. Many of us think of God as this angry, Old Testament figure who is sitting up in Heaven speaking in old English and is looking for someone to smite. As a result, we try to live a smite free life that makes us miserable.
If God is always angry, why did He give us the gift of His Son? I can tell you that when I’m upset or angry with someone, giving them a life changing gift is not an idea floating around in my head. In the Old Testament, we had a pact with God where we would do our part to keep the relationship open through sacrifice, but we constantly fell short. That did make God angry and upset. How do you feel when someone breaks a promise to you? No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t do it.
Out of love, God decided to establish a New Covenant between us. One where when we fall short on our end, Jesus makes up the difference. His birth was also the birth of grace. It announced that God would make a way to reestablish the relationship between He and us. His desire has always been that we would know Him, and go to live with Him for eternity. To take the burden off of us trying to keep our part, He sent Jesus.
John 3:16-17 says, ““For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him” (NLT). Smile! That’s good news. This Christmas, celebrate the birth of grace into our world. Live your life in response to God’s love for you rather than out of the fear of being smitten.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
When I was around seven or eight, I did something that upset my mom. She told me that when my dad came home from work he was going to punish me. She then sent me to my room to wait. After I got in there, I began to think of the punishment I was going to get. I thought about hiding. It seemed like the best plan until I thought about escaping through the window. I then realized that would make it worse. Finally, I decided to put on every pair of underwear I had and some baggy pants. As I waited, all I could think about was the punishment. To be honest, I don’t remember the punishment that day. I just remember the build up and fear.
When you and I sin, we often act like that. It’s the Adam and Eve approach to sin. We feel bad for what we’ve done, and more than anything, we’re embarrassed. It’s obvious God knows about it, but for whatever reason, going to Him seems like a far fetched idea. To be forgiven freely doesn’t feel right, so we wallow in our shame for a bit. It’s like we feel the need to punish ourselves over our sins. The truth is that God doesn’t want us to hide from Him in those moments. He wants us to come to Him right away for the grace He gives.
Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it” (GNT). The verse before says that Jesus understands our weaknesses and sympathizes with us. He didn’t come into the world to condemn us, but that through Him we would find grace when we need it most. He is merciful, and too often we forget that. There’s no reason to hide from Him because of what you’ve done. He knows about it and loves you still. Approach His throne today, get the grace you need and lose your shame.