A 14 Day Meditation on the Love of God
Christ is the Sign of God’s infinite love for us
God’s love–to infinity, and beyond!
Heavenly Father, this morning—and all of history—is about you. Please help me worship you with an undistracted heart. You know how my mind wanders to my upcoming week, present worries, and thoughts of others and other things. Help me put those thoughts away and focus on you and your glory. Would your Spirit cause my heart, soul, mind, and strength to exalt your Holy Name in my singing, listening to Your Word, and interacting with your people.
Kevin Halloran, unlockingthebible.org
Scripture Reading–Matthew 20: 1-16
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity? So the last will be first, and the first last.”
Once I heard a preacher say that we face two judgments in heaven. The first is the judgment to heaven and hell. Christians who put their faith in Jesus do not endure this judgment. But then, he spoke of a second judgment, where God hands out rewards and punishments, depending on our good works.
I am convinced that this preacher was wrong. This second judgment for reward or punishment doesn’t square with a Biblical understanding of God’s love. Furthermore, it can negatively affect our relationship with God.
Jesus’ parable in Matthew 20 gives us a different picture of Jesus’ view of reward and punishment. He tells the story of a farmer who needs day laborers for a job. He hires some in the morning, some at noon, some at three in the afternoon, and some an hour before the quitting time. But when he pays them, he pays them all the same.
The laborers who started in the morning complained that they did more work, but got the same wages. Either the farmer should penalize the workers who started late or reward those who started early. It isn’t “fair.”
But the farmer was not interested in fairness. He is generous. He says, “Are you envious because I am generous?” Envy is about comparisons to others. What business is it to us how God rewards or punishes others? We should be happy with what God gives us.
Rewards and punishments are actually about comparison with others. We think we should receive more than the next guy because we work harder than he does. Our envious hearts rebel against people who not as good as we believe we are also receiving the Father’s love.
Does it offend you that drunks, adulterers, child molesters, despots, violent men, thieves, and bigots will get the same paradise as you if they repent and believe? God offers all His generous love.
Can we place a numerical value on how much God loves us? I believe we can. That value is infinity–the highest number possible. God already loves us beyond the highest degree imaginable. If that is so, how can extra work give us more of God’s love? Infinity plus one is still infinity. If you added extra rewards to infinity, the result would be the same. How can God withhold blessing from us for poor performance? Infinity minus one is still infinity! Infinite love does not change based on our good works. God loves us all the same.
This knowledge of infinite love should keep us more relaxed, more comfortable, and more able to tolerate the minor inconveniences of daily life. What difference does it make where you sit in this life, when we all wind up at the same destination, in the engulfing arms of God’s love? Why worry about our status in this life, when we are promised an eternity with Jesus? Nothing changes God’s love.
People who understand God’s generosity are happier, more willing workers for Jesus. Seeing God as harsh and judgmental does little to motivate us towards righteousness. Frightened people hold themselves back, while secure people press on with confidence.
If God loves us infinitely, we can give more, because we know we’ll never outgive Him. We are under the protection of His amazing, infinite love.
Isaac Watts (1674-1748) was on the outside an ugly little man. He had a particularly pointed nose, frail disposition, and was sick much of his life. Watts had only one romantic involvement in his entire life, with a woman who knew him only by correspondents. When they finally met, she refused him saying that while she considered his soul a great gift, she was frankly not taken with the packaging.
In spite of his physical shortcomings, Watts is fondly remembered as perhaps the greatest writer of hymns of all time, as well as an excellent preacher and lecturer. He is the writer of hundreds of hymns, including
- Joy to the World
- Come ye that Love the Lord
- Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun
- Our God, Our Help in Ages Past
- When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
- Alas! and Did My Saviour Bleed
- I Sing the Mighty Power of God
Watts grew up in a non-conformist Calvinist church that forbade musical instruments and the singing of anything except psalms. Watts believed, however, that God should be honored by original composition that brought glory to Jesus. His works were rejected by his original denomination, though many of his works were based loosely on the Psalms. “Joy to the World.” for example, was loosely based on Psalm 118, and “Jesus shall reign Where’er the Sun” was based on Psalm 90. Watts believed that the singing of the Old Testament should be interpreted as anticipation for the coming of Jesus, but singing after Christ is a celebration for His arrival.
Watts had a passion for worshiping Jesus through music. Along with that, he also had a passion for knowledge. In addition to hymns and poems, Watts also published a textbook on logic. He worshipped God with the mind, the emotions, and his own frail body.
Watts hymns are joyful celebrations of the Love God. They pointed to Christ as the ultimate gift of God. In one of his best-known hymns, he wrote.
“When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.”
“See from his head, his hands, his feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?”
Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”
Look at the stars, or a picture of the stars. If you are on the computer you might want to visit a NASA website or Google Sky. See all the beauty of the heaven, the billions of shining stars, galaxies, and nebulae. Contemplate the vast distances, the light years in between each dot of light in the heavens. But remember that in all that beauty and majesty there is very little alive. The stars are great objects, but are not alive. In the black space between planets there is no life. Though life may well exist elsewhere, our world is unique. Of all the creation we know, we are the only life. Of all the living things, only we are sentient and self aware. And of all the seven billion people on this planet, there is no one like you. You are unique and special in God’s eyse. He has chosen you to be you. Give thanks to God for the gift of understanding, self-awareness, and knowledge.
Closing Worship Songs
Lord, in whom I live and move and have my being, you have surrounded me with your care and protection. Help me to daily surrender to you, so that you will be my strength and my life. Let my inner being be formed around You so that I become like you in all things. In Jesus’ name, amen.
“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.“