You’re being followed!
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” The last verse of Psalm 23 is familiar, to be sure, yet I so often live as if I’ve never really pondered it. What does it mean that the goodness and mercy of Jesus is continually following me?
It means, at the very least, that Jesus loves me a lot. You might ask, though, so what? A lot of people love me, and I love a lot of people. We know about love.
But this is not average love. It can’t be. Because while we were still sinners, Christ died for you and I. We don’t have a category in our minds for that kind of love apart from the gospel of Jesus, because you and I don’t know anyone who would suffer what Jesus did for people who hate them as much as we have all hated Jesus in our sin.
Think about your life. You’re running the race of faith in Christ, and you’re failing a lot. Me too. When you sin, do you doubt the love of God for you? Sometimes I do. It’s not so much that I think He hates me, but sometimes I feel like He must just be saving me from my own stupidity again because to do otherwise would contradict His nature. I imagine that the faithfulness of God to me is simply how it must be. I reason that God couldn’t have genuine affection for me… could He?
Think about God. Think about who He really is for you. If you’re in Christ, He is your Father. So imagine yourself in the family of God. He’s the head, and there you are with all of your rebellion and failure and immaturity. He sees it all, just like your earthly family knows you inside and out. But He’s your dad! How does your dad react when you sin? Yes, he is grieved. But he doesn’t throw you out of the house. He doesn’t treat you like a slave. He doesn’t give you ultimatums like “if you want to be accepted here, you’ll never do that again.” He doesn’t love you less until you behave better.
Those are the characteristics of a father. Why do you think the picture of God as our father is used so frequently in the Bible? It’s because that’s how God deals with people who have trusted Him. Oftentimes, I don’t treasure the gospel because I forget what the gospel is all about. The gospel is about the God of the universe loving us like a father loves his kids. We are His kids, after all (1 John 3.1).
And that verse that I quoted from Psalm 23 is one of the most beautiful pictures of how God deals with His kids in their sin. He follows them with goodness and mercy. It’s like when we are running from Him in our rebellion, He is running after us with grace. Like a father running after his two-year old to get him out of the street and save him from danger, God our father wants to guard us from the deceitfulness and harmfulness of our sin. He’s on our side. When you and I turn away from Him toward danger, He is grieved, but He doesn’t throw us out of His family. He doesn’t treat us like slaves. He doesn’t give us ultimatums like “if you want to be accepted here, you’ll never do that again.” He doesn’t love us less until we behave better.
God, our father, is committed to preserving our safety, hope, and joy. He has to punish us when we sin, but that’s what dads do. It’s further proof of His love to us. And He will keep us from destroying ourselves in our folly. Our future in heaven with Him is secure.
Take hope today, friends!