Freedom to Grow in an Environment of Grace
- Tuesday, July 15, 2003
He has promised never to leave us or forsake us, but this doesn't guarantee a life without pain. It does mean that we can trust Him no matter how difficult life may become. When we value God and His promises, we quickly learn that He is a God who can be trusted. Unfortunately, those who live in fear often trust their self-prescribed protection more than the God of infinite love and resources. The tightly-clung-to values of self-preservation soon decay as a myriad of other protective devices replace the old descending ones.
The flight attendant then did something that surprised me. She removed her seat belt and stood beside me. She began to tell me how her parents divorced when she was in fifth grade. She described the fighting, yelling, and physical abuse that molded her childhood. Then she said something that added further conformation to my thesis. She said that she could remember her report card in fourth grade. Her school graded by letters such as "N" for "needs improvement" or "G" for "good work" etc. She said she could remember receiving all N's. But one in particular stuck in her mind. It was an "N" for show and tell. Because she had refused to stand in front of the class to show and tell anything, the teacher interpreted this as disobedience, and evaluated her as an uncooperative child. I see this as a child who was afraid of rejection and hurt, resulting in low self-worth, low risk, and a longing for somebody to protect and love her!
Oh, may God open our eyes. Our children need our unconditional love and protection. They need to know, experientially, that they are fully loved, fully known, without any fear of rejection. Children who know they are unconditionally loved in spite of what others know about them, will be more willing by God's grace to admit their weaknesses/sins and ask for help. They will be more willing to remove the mask of safety and tear down the walls of protection if they sense that we have their best interest in mind. Children who sense that they are loved in this way, will possess a lower level of fear, which in itself is a powerful motivating factor toward "ascending" values and character development.
Allow me to explain. Fear, according to John in his first Epistle involves punishment. But perfect love casts out fear. In the context of John's discourse on fear and love, he is referring to eternal judgment. But John wants his readers to know that those who know God, or are known by Him, do not need to fear punishment because God has already demonstrated His great love toward them through the life and death of His Son. Because of this great love, we are presented with life's highest possible value; a value of such worth that once found, one would be willing to give anything to possess it.
With God and His Son as our highest value, we are motivated unto love and good works because we know how much He gave on our behalf. It's quite simple. When someone does something for you that is sacrificial and loving, it motivates you to reciprocate in some way to show your appreciation for their love and sacrifice. Because you have been greatly valued, you in turn are motivated to love and sacrifice for others.
For the believer, new motivations are driven by a new sense of value - God and His lavish love. It is amazing what happens when we place a high value on others. Children and adults become motivated to please because they appreciate being valued, and value reciprocates value; it ascends. God valued us, and we in turn value Him and others.
Misunderstanding the depth of God's unfathomable love (and if unfathomable, we can never truly comprehend its depths) is the single greatest reason why a Christian would possess a low self-worth. When one realizes how much they are fully loved (valued), having no fear of rejection, their level of fear decreases and their level of reasoning and risk-taking increases. This, too, is ascending.
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