John 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
This verse, along with John 3:16, describes God’s greatest provision, His greatest gift. With such an important truth, the language used to express it is very significant. In English it says, “the right to become children of God.” Rights are dormant until exercised. God doesn’t force anyone into His family, but He makes membership available to anyone who will choose to repent and believe. In Japanese there’s a slightly different slant: “the privilege to become children of God.” We have to believe in order to enter God’s family, but it isn’t something we earn. Paul was very clear on this point. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Even the faith for salvation is a gift! That said, the faith likewise must be received in humility and gratitude, and there are many who reject it. That is the great tragedy of the universe. When God did so much to make salvation available to mankind, it is incredible but heartbreakingly true that so many people reject it. I think that human free will must be one of the most valuable things in the universe, because if we didn’t have free will we wouldn’t bear responsibility for our sins, and Jesus wouldn’t have had to die to take the penalty for them. However, God wanted children, not robots, and so He gave us free will, knowing even as He did it that so many would misuse it. God’s thoughts are indeed higher than ours, and His ways than our ways! (Isaiah 55:8-9)
This is just as true for me as it is for anyone else. Raised in a home that was steeped in faith, prayer, and the Bible, I learned to love Jesus at a very young age, but that didn’t keep me from veering off into extreme, egotistical pride. You could say I didn’t understand that being a child of God is a privilege; I thought I had it in my pocket. God in His mercy and grace brought me to my senses when I was already the married father of one, at the ripe old age of 24. Every aspect of my life, before and after, has been a demonstration of God’s grace and mercy. I feel incredibly blessed in more ways that I could count, but at the same time I still grumble at various things that don’t fit what I would like. I demonstrate my foolishness all the time! I have the privilege of sharing the good news of God’s family, His kingdom, with others, and I’ve got to keep that in focus as my first priority. I am to enjoy His many blessings with gratitude, but not allow those blessings to distract me from the work He has for me to do.
Father, the more I think about Your grace and mercy the more overwhelming it is. Help me respond in gratitude and obedience at all times, not taking any of it lightly, much less for granted. May I be more and more effective in sharing Your Gospel with others, so that Your house may be full as You desire, (Luke 14:23) for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!