Know You Are Loved
Know You Are Loved
Until it actually happened to me I would not have believed it was possible. But the moment I saw him, I experienced an overwhelming love. This tiny baby, who to others must have looked like any other baby, was my son. The moment a parent first sees their own child is unforgettable. The love a parent feels for a child is almost indescribable. Yet this is the analogy God uses of his love for you. You are a child of God. The love he has for you is even greater than that which parents feel for their own children.
Knowing who you are will have a big impact on your life. Know that you are a deeply loved child of God. This should be the basis of your confidence, security and hope.
Wise childrenProverbs 17:25-18:6
The Bible has a lot to say about human parenting and the relationship between parents and their children. The love parents have for their children is instinctive and powerful. Good parents want the very best for their children. Children have a high capacity to bring great joy to their parents. But, of course, they can also bring grief.
‘Foolish children bring grief to their fathers and bitterness to those who bore them’ (17:25). The writer goes on to expand on the difference between the foolish and the wise in different aspects of life.
For example, ‘fools… delight in airing their own opinions’ (18:2), whereas the wise use words with restraint. In fact, ‘Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues’ (17:28). As American historian Will Durant (1885–1981) once said, ‘One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say.’
The writer then touches on other characteristics of the wise: friendliness (18:1), listening (v.2) and justice (v.5).
Lord, help us to be wise children who please you in the way we live (Romans 8:8).
God’s childrenRomans 8:1-17
How do you see yourself in relation to God? Do you go around always feeling, at least slightly, guilty? Do you ‘live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud’? (v.1, MSG).
This is not how you are meant to live as a Christian. You are a child of God, deeply loved, accepted and empowered by his unconditional love for you. He wants you to enjoy freedom from guilt and condemnation and to experience an intimacy of relationship with him, even closer than the best parent/child relationship.
The moment you receive Jesus the past is dealt with. You receive complete forgiveness. The barrier between you and God has been removed. Paul writes, ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (v.1). You are set free from the law of sin and death (v.2). Although the law was good, it was powerless to save us because of our sinful nature (v.3a). So, God sent Jesus to die for us as a sin offering (v.3b). Jesus took away all your sins – past, present and future.
Now, in the present, you can enjoy life in the Spirit. You no longer live ‘according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit’ (v.4). The Holy Spirit leads you to stop setting your mind on ‘what that [sinful] nature desires’ but rather to set your mind on ‘what the Spirit desires’ (v.5). This leads to ‘life and peace’ (v.6). Paul is not saying that you will be perfect, but rather that ‘even though you still experience all the limitations of sin – you yourself will experience life on God’s terms’ (v.10, MSG). This is possible because right now the Spirit of God lives in you (v.9).
Furthermore, you can look forward to a future resurrection of your body. The same Holy Spirit who lived in Jesus and raised him from the dead dwells in you. Therefore your body, like Jesus’, will be raised: ‘He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you’ (v.11).
It is to those who receive Jesus, to those who believe in his name, that he gives ‘the right to become children of God’ (John 1:12). You become a child of God not by being born, but by being born again by the Spirit.
If Romans is the ‘Himalayas’ of the New Testament, then Romans 8 is its Mount Everest and its summit is these verses where Paul describes how those who are led by the Spirit are the children of God (Romans 8:14–17).
There is no higher status than to be a child of God (v.14). Under Roman law, if an adult wanted an heir he could either choose one of his own sons or adopt a son who would take his name. God has only one begotten Son – Jesus – but he has many adopted sons and daughters. You have been adopted into God’s family. There is no status in the world that compares with the privilege of being a child of the Creator of the universe.
You have the closest possible intimacy with God. Paul says that by the Spirit we cry ‘Abba, Father’ (v.15). This Aramaic word may well have been the first word that Paul ever spoke, and the way in which he addressed his earthly father. Jesus used ‘Abba’ in speaking to God in a distinctive way. It expresses both profound respect and close intimacy, and is perhaps best thought of as ‘Daddy’ or ‘Papa’. In large parts of the Middle East it is still the first word children are taught.
As God’s child, you are no longer a slave of fear but an adopted child of God (v.15). You can enjoy the closest possible intimacy with your Father in heaven.
The Spirit gives you the deepest possible experience of God. ‘The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children’ (v.16). In the same way that I want my children to know and experience my love for them and my relationship with them, so God wants his children to be assured of that love and of that relationship. ‘God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are’ (v.16, MSG).
To be a son or daughter of God is the greatest security. For if we are children of God we are also ‘heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ’ (v.17a). Under Roman law an adopted son would inherit his estate.
As children of God we are heirs. The only difference is that we inherit, not on the death of our father, but on our own death. You will enjoy an eternity of love with Jesus: ‘And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us – an unbelievable inheritance!’ (v.17, MSG).
Paul adds, ‘if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory’ (v.17b). In the Christian life, glory comes through suffering: ‘We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!’ (v.17, MSG). Christians identify with Jesus Christ. This means severe persecution for many Christians today. You will face some opposition, but your inheritance as child of God surpasses all these troubles.
Abba Father, thank you for the amazing privilege of being your child. Thank you that your Spirit living within me testifies with my spirit that I am your child. Thank you that my future is secure – that I am your heir and co-heir with Christ.
Faithful childrenHosea 8:1-9:17
God loves you. He wants you to make the most of your life. He does not want you to waste it. He says to you, as he said to his people in the Old Testament, ‘Don’t waste your life’ (9:1a, MSG). You waste your life when ‘you walk away from your God’ (v.1b, MSG).
As we have seen, Hosea uses a husband and wife analogy for Israel’s relationship with God. However, he will go on to use the parent-child analogy: ‘When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son’ (11:1).
We see how God’s heart is broken by the unfaithfulness of his child: ‘The people have broken my covenant and rebelled against my law… Incapable of purity… They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind… Israel has forgotten his Maker… You have been unfaithful to your God’ (8:1,5,7,14; 9:1). God longs for his people to be faithful to him and live life to the full as a result.
We have the immense privilege of living in the age of the Spirit. God has sent his Spirit to live in your heart – to enable you to live faithfully in accordance with the Spirit (Romans 8:5).
Lord, thank you that I am your much-loved child. Help me to be a wise and faithful child.
‘Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent.’
I try this in intimidating company!
Verse of the Day
‘The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God’ (Romans 8:16).
Will Durant, The Mansions of Philosophy: A Survey of Human Life and Destiny, (Garden City, N.Y: Garden City Publishing Company, 1929).
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.