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Last fall I preached a sermon series on what to do when, for whatever reason, we are Disappointed with God. Today I would like to turn that around and consider why and what to do when we think God is disappointed in us.
Have you ever disappointed someone? When that happens, how do we react?
We can become embarrassed, ashamed, guilty, humiliated, and/or ill at ease. In other words, uncomfortable in the presence of the one we’ve let down. And we often begin to create scenarios about how we think that person feels about us. They are disappointed in me, upset, maybe angry, they don’t want me around. And so we avoid them if possible. And when it’s not, it’s hard to look them in the eye, let alone carry on a meaningful conversation.
How many of you would be willing to admit that you have let God down? And that He is; therefore, disappointed in us.
And how do we respond? We can shut ourselves off from God. The same way we shut ourselves off from people, who we think we have disappointed, we have a tendency to put up a wall, to avoid God. We convince ourselves that God is disappointed with us, and therefore, is tired of hearing about our problems, troubles and worries. Or that He’s done listening to us confess the same sins again and again. We feel uncomfortable in His presence. Could this be why some of us are not praying very much?
Isn’t it amazing how we project the shortcomings we have as humans onto a perfectly loving God?
For those of you who think God is disappointed in you, I offer the following three truths to you today.
God doesn’t remember your past sin.
“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12).
Now don’t think for a minute it is because God has amnesia. The Bible indicates He chooses not to remember. Once we come to the cross of Christ acknowledging our sin asking forgiveness, He wipes our slate clean.
He does this because He loves us. His love isn’t like a friend’s, or neighbor’s, or colleague’s. God doesn’t hold grudges for years, saying, on the one hand, He forgives us but, on the other, remaining bitter towards us. His forgiveness of us is real, complete and final.
I was reading the reflections of a pastor, who wrote:
Early in my ministry, I counseled a woman who, some twenty years before, had been unfaithful to her husband; for years that sin had haunted her. I was the first person she had ever told about it. After we talked and prayed for a long time, I recommended she tell her husband. (That, by the way, isn’t always the advice I give. In this case, I knew the woman’s husband and knew that her revelation, after the initial shock, would probably strengthen their marriage.)
It wasn’t easy for her, but she promised she would tell him. “Pastor,” she said, “I trust you enough to do what you ask, but if my marriage falls apart as a result, I want you to know I’m going to blame you.” She didn’t smile when she said that, either.
I saw her the next day, and she looked fifteen years younger. “What happened?” I asked. “When I told him, he replied that he had known about it for 20 years and was just waiting for me to tell him so he could tell me how much he loved me!” And then she started to laugh. “He forgave me 20 years ago, and I’ve been needlessly carrying all this guilt for all these years!” 1
Perhaps you are like this woman: you asked for Christ’s forgiveness years ago, but you don’t know God’s forgiveness. Instead, you’ve been haunted by a load of guilt for years.
You who have convinced yourself that God is disappointed in you need to realize that there is more grace in God’s heart than there is sin in your past.
Speaking of grace, God’s love and grace are not dependent on our behavior.
In the same way, the Bible proclaims there is nothing we can do to earn God’s love, neither is there anything we can do to negate God’s love as far as God is concerned. Once we have a relationship with Him through faith in the power of the cross, God sees us as pure and white as freshly fallen snow. Our standing with Him has nothing to do with our behavior and everything to do with what Jesus did on the cross.
Philip Yancey writes in his ground-breaking book, What’s So Amazing about Grace?
I grew up with an image of a mathematical god who weighed my good things and bad deeds on a scale and always found me wanting. Somehow I missed the God of the gospels, a God of mercy and generosity who keeps finding ways to shatter the relentless laws of ungrace. God tears up the mathematical tables and introduces the new math of grace. … Grace makes its appearance in so many forms that I have trouble defining it. I am ready, though, to attempt to define something like a definition of grace in relationship with God. Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more; no amount of spiritual calisthenics and renunciations, no amount of knowledge gained in seminaries and religious schools, no amount of crusading on behalf of righteous causes. And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less; no amount of racism or pride or pornography or adultery or even murder. Grace means that God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possibly love. 2
You who feel that your behavior has caused to be disappointed in you, will you let that sink in? Grace means that God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possibly love. 3
In other words, God loves us because of who God is, not because of who we are!
Is it any wonder that John Newton chose ‘amazing’ to describe grace?
I stand in awe at the way that you love me,
Yet with my faults, You say that You love me.
How can it be that someone so pure could love me?
How can it be that something this good is free?
I’m amazed, I am humbled, at the way You look at me.
God is keenly familiar with our whole story.
Thinking God is disappointed implies that we did something to surprise Him. Some of us have the idea that God is up there watching our lives and sees us mess up in some way, and God turns to Jesus and says, ‘Oh my gosh, did you see Randy do that? I can’t believe he did that!’
But God is not surprised by our behavior; He already knows every sin we will ever commit.
The Bible says that God is omniscient. Isaiah 46:9-10 says, “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.”
What does this mean? It means that God saved us knowing full well that we would continue to “fall short of His glory” (Romans 3:23). It means as Psalm 103 declares, “He will not constantly accuse us” (9).
Don’t get me wrong, all of this doesn’t give us license to sin. God knows all, sees all; but He also has something better in mind for us. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).
When Michelangelo looked at a particular piece of marble, he saw what ended up being one of his masterpieces: Angel Holding a Candelabra. Asked about how he created such beautiful artwork out of a simple marble slab, he said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
When God looks at our lives, He doesn’t just see what we are; He also sees what we can be. We are His masterpiece- an “angel” in the making. He sees us as valuable and beautiful, always carving, trying to set us free.
When he looks at us, it isn’t with disdain or disappointment over the things we’ve done or left undone.
Think about that. He knows your whole story; from beginning to end. Despite what we have ever done or ever will do God sees us with a perfect and holy love we can’t begin to imagine or ever comprehend.
Have you accepted what God offers through His Son?
Before Bob Sheffield began to work for the Navigators Christian Ministry, he played professional hockey in Canada. He was tough, loved to fight, and found himself in jail one night after a brawl. Later, Bob and his wife became Christians and sill later accepted a temporary assignment with The Navigators here in the States. Bob had to apply for landed immigrant status, which would allow him and his wife to do ministry in the United States. But because he had a criminal record, his request was denied. So they decided to apply in Canada for what is called the “Queen’s Pardon.” Following thorough investigation, the pardon was granted. Bob Sheffield received the following notice in the mail:
Whereas we have since been implored on behalf of the said Robert Jones Sheffield to extend a pardon to him in respect to the convictions against him, and whereas the solicitor general here submitted a report to us, now know ye, therefore, having taken these things into consideration, that we are willing to extend the royal clemency on him, the said Robert J. Sheffield. We have pardoned, remitted, and released him of every penalty to which he was liable in pursuance thereof.
The pardon meant he was released from any possible punishment for the crimes, and the record of the crimes themselves was completely erased. 4
That is the kind of pardon we have in Jesus Christ! Have you accepted it for yourself?
Paul makes this very clear in Romans 3:22: “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.”
That verse describes why I decided to go into the ministry. When I heard that all of my sins could be forgiven through faith alone apart from work, I grasped hold for all I was worth. And later decided that I was being called to share the good news of this gospel with others. I pray I will be enabled to proclaim the truth of the gospel of Christ until my dying breathe!
Listen once again to what I believe is the best verse in the Bible to summarize the truth of the entire Bible: “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are!”
Have you accepted what Christ offers?
I want to assure you that if you have, then, “There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS” (Romans 8:1).
2 Yancey, Phillip. What’s So Amazing About Grace. [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, © 1997]. Page 70.