Have you ever made so many mistakes and messed up so badly that you questioned whether God could still love you?
Recently I was on the phone with a dear friend and this question came up. During our conversation we spent a good portion of the time rehashing our poor choices, bad habits and downright ungodly behavior that would make any churchgoing saint blush.
“I can’t believe I did that,” my friend said as she recounted a situation she had been in years ago.
“I get it,” I said. “I don’t understand why I keep doing the same things over and over again knowing it goes against the heart and Word of God.”
Our mood was somber and our hearts heavy as we recounted all the bad we had done and, at times, continue to do. For way too long that day, we danced around in our pity party as we played the perfect verbal ping-pong match, bouncing back and forth our stories of shame, regret and defeat. We had successfully proved our point. There was no way God could really love us.
Then as if a giant, invisible hand came out of nowhere and slapped me on the face, I heard “Stop it!” In that moment of clarity, I came to realize God doesn’t love us because we’re good or we do good. God loves us because He is good!
Here’s the deal: all too often we Christians have this theory that as soon as we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we’re never going to mess up, we should always be perfect and always do the right thing. But let me just say this right now: we’ve got to slap ourselves into reality by recognizing there is only one perfect person and that’s Jesus Christ. That’s why He was the only one qualified to die on the cross for our sins. All sins. The sins we did in the past. The sins we just committed. And the sins we’re going to do in the future. God is not asking us to be perfect, but rather He’s asking us to walk out the purpose He has for our lives. And, as crazy as it sounds, God often uses our mistakes to not only teach us but also to teach and encourage others.
Here’s a bit of truth that should allow you to let out a long sigh of relief. God knows we’re going to make mistakes. He knows we’re going to stumble, fumble and fall. But here’s the greatest point of all. Even in the midst of our mistakes, God’s love for us never fails! That’s what we have to tell ourselves to talk ourselves happy. If we focus on every mistake, every misstep, every sin and every single thing we’ve ever done wrong against God, another Christian or even ourselves, then we will live in that pity party and dance in a state of misery and condemnation for way too long.
None of us want to live there. We all desire to know the love of God as well as to live in the perfect love of God. The question is, how do we do that? Well, it begins by reminding ourselves of three important principles God teaches us through his Word.
First, we must remind ourselves that God is not a God of condemnation but is a God of compassion. His love for us will never fail. He’s not going to beat us down for the mistakes we’ve made. He knows we’re just human and His grace and mercy is more than sufficient to walk us through everyday life. God is like, Look, I know you’re struggling. I’m going to help you in the process of where you are because I love you right where you are. I’m going to walk beside you, guiding you with my wisdom and lead you into the right way to go.
Second, we have to remind ourselves that God’s love for us is unconditional. When I was married (I’m now a divorced widow, but that’s a different story), my husband and I got into a huge argument. One night he looked me in the eye and said, “I never loved you.” Then to push the knife in my heart a bit deeper, he walked out on me and our son for good. Other than stunned, I was confused as to how the love of a man I gave my heart to, made a covenant with and vowed to love until death do us part could fail me.
In that moment I wondered, if my husband’s love could fail me when I did all that I knew to do yet still wasn’t what he wanted, does that mean that God’s love could fail me, too, if I wasn’t what God wanted?
No! That’s a lie of the enemy!
We can no longer believe the lies of the enemy. To have true joy and freedom in this life we must hold on to the truth of God’s Word. And His Word tells us that God’s love for us will never, ever, ever, ever fail us! God’s love is unconditional. God loved us even before we were born. God knew what we were going to do, when we were going to do it and how we were going to do it. Yet His love for us never once waivered. Think about it. How many of us have kids? I have a son who makes a lot of mistakes. After all, he’s a kid! But my love for him never waivers. Sure, at times his behavior annoys me and some of the things he does have caused me to become prematurely gray. Nevertheless, I love that kid. And even when he infuriates me, I always want to hug him and love him and say, “This too shall pass. Let’s start new again tomorrow.” That’s how God is with us.
And finally. God’s love is unfailing. Why? Because God is love. God doesn’t just give love, He is the essence of love, the embodiment of love and the fullness of love. He is the perfect example of love because He is love. So to be in the presence of God is to be in His perfect, unfailing, unconditional, full-of-compassion love—no matter how many mistakes we make and how many un-Christian-like moments we have.
So today and every day, when you get tempted to beat yourself down with the shame, regret and mistakes of your past, you must choose to talk yourself happy by choosing to live in and hold on to the perfect love found only in Jesus Christ.
Now take it, speak it and live it. And talk yourself happy!
Kristi Watts is the author of Talk Yourself Happy: Transform Your Heart By Speaking God’s Promises (January 2017, Nelson Books). She recently launched Kristi Watts Ministries to provide Bible study tools, video blogs and speaking engagements. Kristi lives in Virginia Beach, Va., with her son.