For He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion (pity) on whom I will have compassion.So then [God’s gift] is not a question of human will and human effort, but of God’s mercy. [It depends not on one’s own willingness nor on his strenuous exertion as in running a race, but on God’s having mercy on him.]
~Romans 9:15-16 (Amplfied Version)
Confession…Knowing that God’s gift of love is not gained by my own effort should bring me peace and comfort. However, sometimes it makes me a little nervous. Because I am a human being who is fickle, prone to emotion, and sways of opinion, I have a hard time seeing a God who is constant and steady in His love for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). I love knowing that His steadfast love endures forever (Psalms 118). This is all good news to me. My point is that I often make the mistake of limiting God’s love to my own abilities in love. Let me explain, because maybe you do the same thing. Maybe I am not alone in this.
I love people in my life. In my loving people, I get hurt and sometimes, I am tempted to make the choice to stop loving because the pain is so great. Now, I am a follower of God so I choose to keep loving and trust Him to help me forgive, but there’s that one moment in my process where I am tempted to stop loving because I have been hurt so intensely. I don’t like that about myself. I wish I could skip that step all together, but I am human and I am too often weak of heart.
Now, if that is my own experience with loving and I apply that to God I might spend time wondering what pain I could cause Him to bring Him to the point of pain where He, for a moment, is tempted to pull His love out on me. I wouldn’t blame Him because sometimes I am a downright ugly sinner. However, just because I would understand His choice to stop loving me, it would devastate me.
God is not like that. That’s what Paul is talking about here in Romans. I CANNOT make Him reconsider or renegotiate His love for me. It doesn’t change from one day to the next. It is a constant. I am not the one who controls His love for me. I think that is good news. It still makes me a little nervous, but I suppose I am just going to have to trust that God is much better at love than I am.
Until another confession…