During our time at training, I (Jeff) was confronted with the likely reason for why I tend to be critical and judgmental of: myself, Bethany, my children, and others. I tend to give lip service to the Truth of the Gospel. The Truth is that there is nothing I can do to earn the Gift of God. The Gift of the forgiveness of my sins through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. God offers me this gift because he loves me – period – I spell it out to emphasize the little black dot that is about to come – wait for it – here it is. I don't always live like I believe this. I often think and operate out of the belief that I can live in such a way that will cause God love me more, or in reverse, do something to make him love me less.
I tested this theory one night as Andrew (8 years old) and I were having our nightly pillow talk before bed. Realizing that he catches much of his view of God from me, I asked him “What can you do to cause God love you more?” He said “I can obey him.” Ouch! That hurt me to hear. I was too afraid to ask him the question in reverse, so I braced myself and asked him a different question. “What can you do make me, your Papa, love you more?” His answer cut me to the core, and tears of regret come to my eyes as I write this now. He said “I can obey you.”
Without ever telling him directly, I had taught Andrew that there are things he could do (obedience) to earn my love and the love of God. He caught (learned) this from me because I behave this way with God, and expect others to do so as well; as evidenced by my judgmental and critical spirit. Praise God for forgiveness and second chances. Now when I ask Andrew “What can you do, or not do, to cause me or God to love you more or less?” He answers: “Nothing!”
Allow me to propose that it is wrong of me to add to (to super-size) the Gospel. God loves me – period. There is nothing that I can do, or not do, to cause God to love me more or less. When I add to the Gospel, I am saying to God that the death of Jesus was not sufficient. To balance this position, allow me to propose that there are things that I can do, or not do, that cause God to be more or less pleased with me, but there is nothing that I can do to affect his love for me...there is a BIG difference. When I need a reminder of this I just need to tuck Andrew into bed. He now asks me every night...
Andrew to Papa: “What can you do to make God love you more?”
Andrew: “Don't you forget it!”
Papa: “I won't, but keep reminding me.”