I never thought much about whether God liked me or approved of me when I was a young man. I knew He loved me, but I never thought about whether He liked me. If someone had pressed me on that point, I probably would have concluded that the Lord “somewhat” liked me. I don’t think I would have said that He liked me through and through.
Only after I truly experienced God’s love—His total, unconditional, overwhelming, abundant love—could I say with all honesty, “Yes, God likes me. He approves of me. He likes spending time with me. He likes being with me. He likes hearing me when I pray to Him, and He also enjoys talking with me through His Word. I believe He loves me. He knows I make mistakes, but He sees my heart and my desire to know Him better each day.”
I didn’t come to that position on the basis of things I had accomplished or actions I had taken. Rather, I came to that position solely because I had a new appreciation for God’s grace at work in my life. The Lord certainly does expect obedience, but the fact is, I had done nothing and could do nothing to win His approval. God likes me just the way I am, because He created me to be just the way I am. His approval of me isn’t based on anything I have accomplished or might accomplish in the future. He approves of me because I stand forgiven before Him, and I’m forgiven because I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and have received His forgiveness. That makes me totally acceptable to Him.
The first four chapters of Romans make it very clear that we can’t save ourselves. We are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). But because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross, by faith we are “justified as a gift by His grace” (v. 24).
Jesus has done for you what you cannot do. He purchased full approval and forgiveness for you. You cannot have grace without the Cross. But because of the Cross, you have full access to His grace.
Grace is God’s kindness and goodness toward you without regard to worth or merit. As a believer, you have a duty to obey the Lord. But you can’t earn grace, buy it, or barter with God to receive it. Grace is His free gift to you. There is only one thing you can do in regard to grace: receive it gladly!
Adapted from “The Charles F. Stanley’s Life Principles Bible,” 2008.