A friend of mine recently told me of getting tangled up – yet again – in sinful thoughts. Maybe you can relate. I sure can. It sounded to me as though he was scolding himself pretty mercilessly. As he said, he is is own worst critic. Maybe you can relate. I sure can. As we talked, he talked about the Apostle Peter, how he had denied Christ three times and how Jesus confronted him later. As John recorded the conversation in his Gospel, Jesus asked Peter if he “loved” Him, using the Greek word for self-sacrificial love, agape. Peter’s response was that he “loved” Jesus, using the somewhat weaker Greek word for brotherly love, phileo. My friend said he felt a lot like Peter in that he couldn’t honestly say, in light of his repeated failure, that his love for Jesus was full-on agape love. Maybe he had gone too far this time. Maybe he was one step over the line.
Maybe you can relate. I know I can.
My question for my friend was this: “Do you think Jesus was disappointed in Peter?” He thought about it and said, “No, because Jesus knew everything about Peter from the beginning of time. If He already knew what Peter would do, how could He be disappointed?”
And then I asked a question I’ll bet you have asked: “Do you think Jesus is disappointed in you?”
The answer is the same as it was for Peter, but it’s harder to fully grasp it when it has to do with us, personally, isn’t it? Our hearts love to criticize and accuse. But when we engage in that kind of thinking, we are playing into Satan’s hand. You probably know that the name, Satan, means “The Accuser.” What you may not know is that Satan hooks us with feelings of shame. That is his method to enslave us. In fact, every known addiction is commonly triggered by feelings of shame. But Jesus took our shame to the cross and paid for it there. If you have accepted His gracious gift, Jesus has taken your shame, and has set you free to live by the power of His Spirit.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
When we screw up (again!) God is not disappointed. He is like a Father who is teaching a toddler to walk. Keep that picture in mind. And hang on to these verses from one of John’s letters:
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. (1 John 3:18-24)
Tom, I am again reminded of the sermon you preached on John 21. That one stands out for me along with many others over the years.