Athlete, You Do Not Gain Love
James 4:10 (NIV)
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
Whenever I’m just starting out at a new job, I aim to work extra hard to prove myself worthy of the position I was hired for, just in case anyone has any doubts. I do this in part as a way to fight my own impostor syndrome — what if they find out they hired me by accident?! — but also to gain respect from my coworkers.
And I won’t lie, it’s an awesome feeling anytime I’m praised for my competency and ability. This isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. The problem is, anytime I mess up and miss a deadline, or send an important email out to the wrong person, I get scared.
I start to worry that my coworkers will look down upon me or think I’m incompetent. It’s sweet to be liked. It’s another thing to be known.
What I love about God, and what I so often have to relearn again and again about Him, is how He treats people at their worst, not at their best. James 4:10 says “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
It’s funny how often I’ll try to play games around my mistakes, my selfishness, my shortcomings, and mentally minimize my actions: It wasn’t that bad; so-and-so whom I respect did this before, so it’s something the best of us do; it wasn’t a big deal.
In reality, I’m just dodging an opportunity to be healed of the harm I caused for others as well as for myself. It feels easier to dismiss an insecurity or sinful tendency of mine and say, “It’s not that bad.”
But over time, the more I have to say that to myself, the more weight I carry.
The truth is, I don’t earn the love of God when I do Christian-y things. People around me may praise me, but God doesn’t start noticing me only then, and decide to love me more.
And conversely, I don’t lose the love of God when I mess up. I’m not doing myself any favors by ignoring my sinfulness when it shows up. The reality is, God’s love constantly overflows, so I am safe and free to be brutally honest about my pride or selfishness or whatever else is plaguing my life right then and there.
We get to go to God, who awaits us with open arms.
It can be painful to have the unsexy truths about us exposed. It can feel uncomfortable to be increasingly known in this way. But here’s the sweet reality: None of the ugly specifics about us are hidden from God, and still, He loves us abundantly.