While attending a weekend youth retreat recently, a faded poster in our cabin caught my attention. It simply stated, “God loves me as I am.” This is absolutely true! When considering the parent-child relationship, there is nothing a child could do or say that could make mom and dad love them any less. We love our children with every fiber of our being, and this is no different with our Heavenly Father whose love is perfect, because He is love (1 John 4:8). However, we must keep in mind that while God loves us as we are, He is not always pleased with us as we are. As a child of God, what are some areas where I need not settle to be “as I am”?
In Worship and Devotion
There is a common misconception that we come to worship God each week in order to be right with Him. However, the Bible is clear that we should come to lay our gifts at His feet not to get right, but because we are right with Him. It has been wisely said that God is more concerned with my holiness than with my happiness. If I have sin at my charge as I am, passages such as Matthew 5:23, 24 are clear that I need to mend relationships with others and with the Father before my worship is pleasing to Him. May I strive each day to keep myself “unspotted from the world’’ so that I can “worship in the beauty of holiness” (James 1:29; Psalm 96:9).
In Wisdom and Discernment
The concept and expectation of spiritual growth is scattered throughout the pages of God’s Word. We start with milk, the basic principles of Christianity, and should continue to grow to handle meatier subjects (Hebrews 5:12). We are to build upon our faith by adding virtue, patience, and other spiritual fruit as well as grow in knowledge and discernment (cf. 2 Peter 1:5-8; Philippians 1:9). If, as I am, I find myself in a spiritual rut, becoming consumed with the responsibilities of life and neglecting my spiritual growth, may I take time each day to meditate on God’s Word and build a relationship with Him in prayer. “When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil…” (Proverbs 2:10-12).
In Wants and Desires
I am convinced that one of Satan’s greatest tools in our society is materialism. Having the latest, greatest, and shiniest gadget/house/car is an easy temptation to consume even the strongest of Christians. Why? Because although we are called to be different, it is often not a comfortable place to be (cf. 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Corinthians 6:17). Nobody likes to be uncomfortable, and so we get caught up in keeping up with the Joneses (regardless of affordability), and our thoughts and concerns become focused on the physical rather than the spiritual. When I find myself becoming unsatisfied with the physical necessities God faithfully provides and the focal point of my prayers becomes all of my wants and desires, I must be willing to look into myself as I am and examine my motives. May I grow to set my desires on glorifying the Father and pray as our Savior, “not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
By Kathryn Baker
Kathryn and her husband Andy live in San Marcos, TX and worship with the University church of Christ where Andy has served as the Associate/Youth Minister for 6 years. She stays at home with their 2 daughters and enjoys teaching Bible classes to children and ladies.