Psalm 89:33, "Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him,
nor suffer my faithfulness to fail."
Hebrews 13:16, "But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."
This morning, one of the failings that men have is the distinguishing of position versus circumstance. For example, a king's son may commit a transgression in the eyes of the law and be thrown in prison for his transgression. That, however, does not negate his position as the king's son, even though his circumstance is abysmal. Likewise, people also fail to recognize the difference between "love" and "pleasure." As with the first analogy, one is tied to position and the other to circumstance. Therefore, let us examine, for a moment, the difference between the love of God and the pleasure of God as it is extended and given to His people here in this earth. Failure, by us, to see and understand the difference will lead to behaviour that is not fitting and becoming of a child of the King.
God's love is a vast and incomprehensible sea that man will never completely understand and figure out this side of heaven and immortal glory. Since God's love is infinite, everlasting, eternal, and perfect, we, as creatures of time and imperfection, do not fully see the beauty and glory of this rich character of God. However, that should not negate our complete adoration and comfort of this rich truth, as God's word is full of sweeping pictures and passages that show us such. In the verse above from the Psalms, we see that God's love will never be taken from us here. The verses that precede ours show that the people had failed and transgressed before God, yet in all their many and varied follies, His lovingkindness and faithfulness will not fail. The reason that His lovingkindness cannot fail to us, is for the simple fact that it would have to fail to Christ to fail to us. He loves us as He loves His Son, and since His Son is His darling, we
will be forever held in the eyes of His matchless love. (John 17:23)
As God has loved Christ from all eternity, so has He loved us from all eternity. As God's faithfulness to His Son will never fail, so shall it never fail to us. Truly, while eternal matters and covenants are not fully understood, they are of great comfort to us, for they bring to bear the fact that God has always loved us, loves us still, and will always love us. (Jeremiah 31:3) One of the problems that weak creatures have in understanding this is that our own acts of love fail to meet the level of God's love. We, at times, are lacking in our displays of love. But, the God of glory has never lacked in His love, for it is tied to His truth and faithfulness. As He will not fail nor be discouraged, He cannot fail in His love to His people. We fail in our love for one another, but He does not. His love is irrespective of emotion. Ours, sadly, many times is not. That is not to say that God does not have tender emotion for His people as He is pleased with us (as we will come to in a moment), but His love is tied to His very being of holiness and righteousness. For Him, love is not a feeling He got one day, but it is a quality that He has always had for us, even when we did not exist anywhere other than His mind and purpose.
Therefore, God's love does not change based on circumstance; it supersedes and overarches every circumstance. What if someone sins and comes short of the glory of God? His love reigns higher than the sin. What if someone is found in the very depths of deplorable behaviour? His lovingkindness will not fail as that would deny His very Son that stood our place. This is why the thought that God loves everybody will not hold water and cross-examination by God's word and testimony. Since His love to us is not tied to circumstance even though our circumstance sometimes is dire, how does His love harmonize with His holiness? For His love to harmonize with holiness and righteousness, the iniquities were stamped out by the blood of Christ. So, if someone is going to suffer eternal fire (and some are), their iniquities are justly condemned by the holiness of God. How could love harmonize with that? The very fact that some people will suffer eternal flames shows that God's love is not upon them, as God's holiness will not allow of one imperfection before Him in that heavenly portal.
Now, let us contrast God's love with His pleasure to us here. Indeed, His work of redemption and salvation was according to His pleasure and based on His love, but what about His pleasure to us here on a daily basis? That is tied to circumstance, for while God always loves us, He does not like the conditions we find ourselves in many times. Paul closes Hebrews by talking about our sacrifices to make after going through, at length, the ultimate sacrifice and priesthood of Christ. Our sacrifices are the offerings of our lips and thank offerings of our heart. These sacrifices are a sweet smelling savour in God's nostrils. When we present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, unto God, He is well pleased with the effort. When we extend compassion and lend aid to our brethren here, He is well pleased. What would happen if the converse were the case? He would not be well pleased by the actions (or lack thereof).
One of the modern expressions in the religious world is, "God loves you just the way you are." For a long time, I wondered about that phrase, for I knew, on the surface, that it was true. God does love us just the way we are, for our position is secured and sure in Jesus Christ. By His work, not ours, we are loved as we are, for we are redeemed. Our quickened souls and spirits are bearing the very image of Christ (Colossians 1:27), and our bodies will one day be glorified as well. (Philippians 3:21) And, even though we do not yet see the glorification of our bodies, He does see that currently as good as done. (Romans 8:30) Therefore, God does love us just as we are, for that is what Christ accomplished for us and gave to us. One day, I pressed someone that made the statement, though, and discovered that the statement was made with no reference to Christ's work but had everything to do with our work. God loves us just as we are, whether we are on-track or off-track. Again, on the surface, this is a true statement, but one more press by me and the core thought surfaced.
The reasoning the brother was making was that God was pleased (he misused the word love) with us just as we are. Beloved, God's pleasure is not always upon us. His Fatherly eyes are not always smiling upon our behaviour and action. Many times, my feelings of God are those of an angry, chastening Father for my sins and transgressions. David felt smitten by God in Psalm 51 for the sins that welled up before his eyes. David confessed that his sin was to God and God alone. He felt the arrows of an angry parent that chastened David with a bitter stroke. Pleasing God means obeying what He has said. Being loved by God is being in Christ Jesus and a recipient of that wonderful story of salvation that began in the heavenly portals and will be fully realized at the end of time.
Therefore, for God to like what we are doing and engaged in, may we not be forgetful to entertain strangers and let brotherly love continue. For His pleasing smile to be felt upon us, may we go without the camp bearing the reproach of Christ. In eating with Him and supping with Him, we feel that sacred closeness that comes from a child eating in peace with His parents. Nothing that I have ever done or said changed the fact that I am the son of my parents, and nothing that I have ever said or done has changed what Christ has done for me or negated God's love to me. But, dear friends, I have been a heaviness to my mother for my wrongs and not made my father glad by the paths that I have taken. (Proverbs 10:1) My wayward straying has made the countenance of my Heavenly Father fall at times that withheld His pleasure from me and to me.
As with the original analogy of a king's son being in prison, we may find ourselves in prisons of ignorance, temptation, and lust. None of these circumstances changes the fact that we are the children of the King, but our circumstance may not experience His pleasure unto us. Oh, however, the joy of not only being a child of the King, but feeling that blessed position. When a king's princes are sitting together with him at banquet, they feel the glory of their place. When we sit together with Christ, we feel the glory of our position. This is not any more glorifying to our person than theirs. The reason that they have the position is through natural progression, and the reason that we have the position is through the grace and love of Almighty God. But, the opportunity to sit there is dependent upon their behaviour. What if one of them was sleeping during banquet time? They would miss the opportunity to sit with their father and eat. If we are slumbering in life or walking contrary to the kingdom, we may miss the opportunities to sit with our King and feast together, feeling His pleasurable smiles upon us. But, oh thanks be unto Him that His lovingkindess, our position in Him, and His faithfulness to us is as sure now as ever and forever will be.