Tag Archives: God’s love in Jesus

To Be Happy

Once again we have been reminded of the desperate need of the human heart to be happy.  The death of Robin Williams is a particularly tragic event in our culture.  There have been many others who have ended their own lives because of depression, addiction, or pain; but Williams was a man who seemed so widely accepted and loved.  For forty years he made us laugh.

By now we should understand that there are those who seek to find their own happiness in the happiness of others.  The comics among us have so often been tragic characters.  Perhaps they think that if they can make us laugh, they will find joy for themselves.  I won’t pretend to know Robin Williams or understand his demons, but I know that seeking health by making others laugh is a losing proposition.

I write about some negative things, particularly narcissism and legalism.  Both are attempts to find personal health by controlling or manipulating the feelings of others.  Both fail to satisfy the needs of the heart.  The narcissist, like the comic, can make those around him laugh, and the legalist can give sacrificially; but neither will find joy or freedom or peace from their efforts.  The darkness within is not overcome by their gifts.

There is a need for us to be accepted and loved for who we are, rather than for what we do.  There is nothing we can do or produce to fill this need.  That love and acceptance must come from the free choice of another, someone who knows the truth of our hearts and still chooses to love us.  Many have found that the love of the people around them, no matter how sincere, is still not enough.  I believe there is a core need for the love of God in our hearts.

It is a particular offense to the gospel of Jesus Christ to make it about sin and wrath and measuring up.  The real message of the gospel is exactly what the human heart needs—love.  Instead of telling people that they have sinned and must find the way to being accepted, we must tell them that they have sinned and God loves them.  We do not bring a message of rejection!  The gospel is a message of love and acceptance.

You have sinned and God loves you.  You cannot save yourself, but God—in Jesus—will save you.  You are broken and hurting and Jesus offers health and peace.  The darkness pulls you to addictions and despair; Jesus calls you to eternal love and freedom.

In your own dark days, remember the love of One who truly knows you.  He knows your doubts and fears and compromises and He finds great joy in knowing you.  No matter how bleak or depressing your life becomes, you can never fall further than His arms of love.

When a friend or family member is going through the dark days, love them and tell them of this greater love.  Tell them that Jesus loves them.  Whatever they have done, whatever thoughts have gone through their mind and heart, Jesus loves them.  He is quick to forgive, powerful enough to heal, and steadfast in His love.

The message of grace is that love is already there for you.  You don’t have to earn it or deserve it or even seek it.  The tiniest glimmer of faith is enough to begin welcoming and receiving that amazing love.  Just the desire, the willingness to take what is offered, is enough—and that’s already in you.  That longing finds its fulfillment in Jesus, the love of God.

The lie says that if you can make enough others happy, you will find happiness.  Parents look to find their happiness in the happiness of their children.  Givers look to the happiness of those who receive.  Workers look to those who are served.  And then there are those who take a broken route, the narcissists who manipulate the feelings of others to create their own peace or the legalists who seem to seek to destroy the happiness of others to make themselves feel better about their brokenness.  But it doesn’t work.  None of it works.  We cannot take our happiness from others.

My prayer for all of us is that we would no longer seek to find our happiness in the looks or lives of those around us; but that we would find our joy in Jesus.  May that always be the place and beginning of our health.

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Why do you try so hard?

. . . to get what you already have?

Let’s face it: most of us try hard to be accepted.  We do a little extra here or there, work a little harder on this or that, and bend a little too much.  And most of us open ourselves to manipulation and abuse when we do these things.  It isn’t bad for us to be kind and give a little more.  What’s bad is when we do it to be accepted.

Why is that bad?  Because it doesn’t work and because it reveals our weakness and because it causes us to look past our reasonable cautions.  Also, when it doesn’t work, we find ourselves getting angry or hiding further into our cave.

You know what I mean.  You volunteer or are assigned a special job in your organization and you decide to do a very good job.  You put in a lot of time and creativity, only to have others criticize your ideas or dismiss your efforts.  It’s quite natural and understandable for you to be hurt because of the rejection, but isn’t there something more?  Even if you were not expecting or working for praise, you feel less connected, less acceptable, less wanted.  It is very likely that you were looking for acceptance, self-worth, through your work.

Engraved into the granite of our minds are the words, “If you do well, you will be accepted.”  No matter what we learn later, those words are still there.  We try to ignore them or reject them, but they are there to remind us every day.  They are carved into the thinking of the people around us and we see them written all over the world in which we live.

What if you could believe that you are already accepted at the highest level, equal in value to the greatest person in the world?  What if you could believe that your acceptance didn’t depend on your good work, but on the love of Jesus for you?  All of this is true!

Did you know that you are fully acceptable to God because of Jesus?  It was one of the things He did for you as you came to Jesus in faith.  The Father made you accepted in the Son.

to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:6

The thing you try so hard to get is already yours!  It really doesn’t matter what others think.  You will never be accepted by everyone in this world.  It doesn’t work that way.  But the One who does matter does accept you.  No more measuring up.  No more striving to be loved.  No more opening yourself to the cruelty and manipulations of others in an attempt to be accepted.  It is already done in Jesus.

So the next time you get that job in your organization or family, do it well because that’s who you are.  Do it well because you want to.  Then, don’t listen to those who use your work to position themselves.  Don’t accept any judgment of yourself but that of Jesus—who already finds you quite acceptable.

The Bible tells us to be transformed in our minds, in our thinking.  Perhaps it will surprise you one day to look back at the granite of your mind and realize that the words are different.  Now they say, “In me, you are always accepted.  – Jesus.”

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