In Spite Of
A friend of mine and I were talking about a devotion at MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship) over 40 years ago! It was the year before I started youth but she still remembers that devotion. Johnny, our youth director, went around and asked some of the youth why they liked their friend, girlfriend or boyfriend. He got answers like, "because they are cute", "because they are fun", "because they are nice", etc. Afterwards he told them that the difference in that love and the love of Jesus is that Jesus doesn't love you because of, He loves you "in spite of!"
Recently, I saw a picture of Marilyn Monroe and it said, "I'm selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes. I'm out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you don't deserve me at my best." I thought of, "in spite of." Jesus loves you in spite of all the bad qualities you have and all the bad things you have done. That is unconditional love!
I know I have said and done many, many things I regret! While I cannot change my past I can do better in the future. Psalm 103: 10-12, "he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." David wrote this psalm. Probably having to live with his own bad decisions. Through the entire psalm, he doesn't even give excuses. He regretted his behavior but trusted God had removed them "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us."
I am so thankful to know God will "forget" those things that we have asked Him to forgive. When I think about Him knowing not only everything I do but everything I think! Yikes! Hebrews 4: 13, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." We cannot hide anything from God! And this should make all of us uncomfortable because we are all sinful. 1 John 1: 8, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us."
The good news is that God knows everything about us and He still loves us! Our failures do not surprise God, in fact, He expects them. If someone knew all of our thoughts they might not like us anymore but God does! He loves us IN SPITE OF! He loves us in spite of our sins, our thoughts - past and future. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins. I like the way Rick Warren put it, "God doesn’t love you because of who you are or what you’ve done but because of who he is and what he has done."