God loves us just because
I'm not above a bribe, particularly when it comes to getting my kids to try something new.
Last year during swimming lessons, my kids were determined to not put their faces in the water at all costs. At times it was a bit funny watching them try to do what the instructor asked them to do while keeping their face above water, but I did want them to be comfortable getting their face wet.
So on the way to one lesson, I told them I'd take them out for ice cream after their lesson if they put their face in the water. Lo and behold, they were up to the task, and after swimming I followed through with my end of the bargain. Granted, every now and then they still ask if they can get ice cream if they put their face in the water, but I remind them that was a one-time deal! Although an appropriately-timed bribe can indeed work well when it comes to parenting, fortunately this is not the way God deals with us. Instead of operating with an "if, then" mentality, God gives, God loves, and God provides, without us having to do anything to earn it. And what a blessing this truly is.
"I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly," Jesus tells us. Certainly, the more we walk in step with God's Spirit and God's ways, the more we will experience the joy and peace that comes from God, but God loving us and choosing us as God's children is not based on what or how much we do. God simply loves us because we are his children and we belong to him.
If God did operate on an "if, then" sort of basis, it would be a pretty convoluted relationship, if you ask me. We would never know if God loved us because of who we are or because of what we did. We'd also always be comparing ourselves to one another, trying to ascertain how we're doing compared to everyone else. This sort of thing happens in our human relationships all the time, but when that is the case, rarely are we filled with joy, peace, and a true sense of belonging.
So today, as I watch my kids swim happily at swimming lessons, I also give thanks for God's love and faithfulness in my life. It's a relief to know that God's love for me is not based on what I do or don't do. And it's always good to remember that God's love for me isn't compared to his love for others either; rather, with God, there is more than enough love to go around.