Failures; May 4, 2020

1 John 3:19-20 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

I’m glad John stuck this into his letter. He has been expressing so many things that, on reflection, we don’t seem to measure up to, and so our own hearts condemn us (with plenty of encouragement from the devil). John is reminding us that God knows us better than we know ourselves, and He loves us anyway. He knows what we have done, and He knows what we are going to do. His love is not conditional on that. All that is required is our faith, our commitment. Even there we tend to condemn ourselves, saying that our faith is deficient and our commitment intermittent. God knows that better than we do! It can help to realize how many times Jesus chided His disciples for their small faith, but He loved and trusted them anyway, knowing that the Holy Spirit would iron it all out. For the child of God, active submission is perhaps the most important thing. We need to rest in the assurance that God indeed knows everything, and He’s big enough to handle it all.

I once had someone withdraw from the church because I was talking about “commitment” so much. They wanted to hear more of “the Gospel” in my messages. Not long after that they moved to another part of Japan, and I trust they have grown since then. We are indeed saved by grace through faith, (Ephesians 2:8-9) but we are also created to do good works. (Ephesians 2:10) We can’t earn salvation, but we are to respond to salvation with gratitude and obedience. That said, none of us gets it perfectly right, as I know only too well. That’s why this passage is so important. I am to rest in my knowledge of God’s grace, and I am to communicate that grace to all who will receive it. As John said in the verse just before this, I need to do so with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18) I deal with people who have failed so many times that I am tempted to give up on them, and/or never trust them again, but then God reminds me of my own track record, and I repent. God knows about all failures before they happen, and He loves us anyway. He doesn’t want us to fail, and if we will be humble and honest before Him He will cleanse and strengthen us so we will be less likely to fail in the future, but even if we do, that’s not the end of the story. As a recipient of God’s grace, I am to be an agent of God’s grace.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the various things I see going on in the people all around me. Thank You for what’s going on in me! May I continue to grow, and be Your agent in helping others to grow, so that we may all become mature in Christ, children fully pleasing to You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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