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You Don’t Have to Earn It

READY: “Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” - 1 John 4:10

As an athlete or coach, do you ever get tired of the same old, “Be the best! Best the best! Win! Win! Win!” mentality that permeates the culture? It’s fun to compete, and it’s an amazing experience to train for a goal and then achieve it. But if our hearts are enslaved to the performance-driven mentality of athletics, then competition will be more of a burden than a blessing.

I spent years operating under this system, thinking that it was actually godly—that part of competing for Christ involved earning His favor by winning and achieving. My competition outlet is running, so I used it as a way to perform my way into the favor of God and men. Boy, was that a nightmare. It was fun for a while, but when I’d finally achieved at a high level, I quickly realized that it still wasn’t good enough and went through a tremendous season of confusion. If achieving in sports and life still wasn’t enough for God and for others, what did I need to do in order to be approved and earn His love?

It’s taken some time, but I’m finally realizing that the answer is simply nothing. There is nothing I can do, nothing I can say, no race I can run, no clock I can beat that will make me any more or less valuable to God. He simply loves me because I am His child. End of story. Wow!

Because that kind of love isn’t anything like what we experience here on earth, it can be hard to receive. But we have to try and wrap our minds around the fact that God is entirely “other” from us. He’s not human; He’s God. He doesn’t operate the way we do, and trying to humanize Him will lead us into confusion about who we are, who He is, and how we receive His approval.

The truth is that we don’t have to do a thing to be justified before Him or to be loved by Him. All we have to “do” is receive it. Isn’t that crazy? While the world may ask us to win every game, score every goal, and break every record, God only asks us to let Him love us! That’s so much better than having to earn anything, isn’t it?

Now, let me be clear: there is a certain degree of responsibility. It’s not a “God is love, end of story” situation. That’s partially true, but there is a sin factor, a cross and a Savior to consider. Yes, God loves us regardless of how we perform, but we need to understand that our sin carries a penalty. But, because God is so in love with us, He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay that penalty for us so that we wouldn’t have to do it ourselves. Hallelujah! And again, the only thing we need to “do” in order to live under that forgiveness is to believe in and trust in Jesus as Lord.

Today, if you are tired and burdened by the old “better, higher, faster, stronger” mentality, go ahead and lay it down. Realize that you don’t have to win anything in order to be fully and completely accepted and loved by God. By all means, compete and do the best you can, but don’t get caught up in having to earn anything through it. Know that God loves you for who you are simply because He made you and you are His child.

GO: 1. Do you ever feel like you have to perform at a certain level in order to receive the approval of God? When is it going to be good enough?
2. Why is that mentality dangerous? Why is it not true?
3. How is God’s love different than the world’s love? Which system are you buying into?
4. How would it feel if you believed that you were fully and completely loved by God regardless of what you did or didn’t do?

Deuteronomy 10:12
Psalm 36:7
Psalm 46:10
Psalm 136
1 John 4:9-10

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jill Ewert is the editor of FCA's Sharing the Victory magazine. Visit or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

18 comments (Add your own)

1. cynthia tyson wrote:
This is a very good article. I am truly loved by God and I am approved by him. This is a healthy kind of love to have. I can now love other people for who thay are, and not be jealous of them. I can accept myself, and I can accept others for who they are. I am at peace with myself. Hallelujah!

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3. Antoniorobsondasivabraia wrote:
I remember sinrtag at a picture of Christ on our dining room wall then going and sitting on the steps in the backyard asking Jesus to show up because I had a lot of questions. He didn't arrive physically and I remember thinking that wasn't because he didn't exist it just must be he was awfully busy right then ..6-7 years of age?

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I read your post the other day as my birthday appocarhed and had to step back and look around to make sure you weren't looking over my shoulder. I have been running into a lot of the same thoughts and feelings and decided to go back through some of my earlier devotions to find strength and came across this verse as well. I have since decided to open my own blog and record what God is saying to me in my time with him in hopes that someone may need some words of peace as i did and will come across my post and it will speak to them as yours has spoken to me.Thank you again.

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