I remember a secular song popular many years ago called River. To this day, lines from that Joni Mitchell song stick with me. She sang, “I’m always hard to handle. I’m selfish and I’m sad. Now I’ve gone and lost the best baby that I ever had.”
The words came to mind again this week while reading a post from a Christian who said, “I still struggle with being angry, ungrateful, and cranky.” I added her words to what several people have written me about recently. They’ve asked, “Will God ever give up on me?” Worried because they think they have already done the thing that’s “finally too much for God to take,” they’re feeling fear.
Many worry about keeping God’s love
Now, their concerns aren’t just about conquering anger, ingratitude, or crankiness. Some are worried about other things like doubts, waning faith, a fresh sin committed, or a repeated sin committed. But, this question comes to many people at different times, “Does God give up on us?”
I’ve had that fear. Have you? At times, I’ve wondered if I have let God down too much or made too big a mistake. It hurts.
Do we lose God when we’re selfish and sad?
As in Joni Mitchell’s song, do we lose the best loved one we’ve ever had – our God – when we’re selfish and/or sad? No! It’s a guarantee that after we receive Jesus Christ as Savior, we still won’t be perfect! And God knows that! Instead, we all have a lot of “cleaning up” to do even at that point. But, that is something only God can do in your life. Yes, you must cooperate. The way you do that is to believe Him that He loves you and has changed you. That He IS changing you. And, in addition, you must learn how to receive His love.
I deeply appreciate something that Jessica Van Roekel wrote in an article about God’s enduring love. In it, she said, “God doesn’t stand like an umpire at a ball game waiting to shout, “you’re out!” Instead, He draws us to Himself with kindness.” Or, as Pastor Joseph Prince wrote in his Destined to Reign devotional book, “There will never come a time when Jesus says to you, “I’ve given you so much grace and you still haven’t learned a thing. No more grace for you!”
By the way, Pastor Prince’s book is excellent for shaking us out of the “God loves everyone else, but I’m the bad kid He wants to get rid of” lie!
Biblical Proof # 1 – God’s faithfulness
So, let’s look at 4 proofs that God will not abandon us. God says multiple times in His Word that He won’t forsake or abandon us. Though we might be unfaithful, He won’t be. His character is pure, holy, and constantly reliable.
For example, look at the verse above that can be shared on Twitter. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
Jesus reassured us in John 10:27-30 (NIV) when He said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
More verses about God’s faithfulness
Jesus also said, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NIV)
There are many declarations of God’s faithful, enduring love for His imperfect people, but here is just one more:
Biblical Proof #2 – God’s forgiveness
I shared the verse above where Jesus taught, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) What is important about this statement Jesus made? He was saying that He revealed/reveals the Father’s heart. Jesus IS God. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
So when the disciples asked Him how many times should they forgive someone who has offended them, Jesus answered, “Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” (Luke 17:4 NIV) Elsewhere Jesus was quoted as saying you must forgive seventy times seven.
If this is what Jesus taught His followers to do and He is revealing the Father’s heart, we have to conclude that this is a Divine value – to live in a state of forgiveness, giving people second, third, and multiple chances to start over. Our Eternal God lives a lifestyle of forgiveness!
A testimony of God’s mercy
Recently I did an interview with Randal and Traci Dowdy on my podcast, Rooted by the Stream, on the Charisma podcast network (CPN). They are the authors of a book called Beyond Impossible: How a Divine Visitation Brought New Life to a Marriage.
Randal and Traci are extremely open in their book. They talk about their many failures in the marriages they had prior to their marriage to each other. Then they candidly speak about struggling in their own marriage, hurting each other a great deal. After divorcing and being apart for five years, they remarried, and began, yet again, to find their marriage crumbling after another 8 years.
God did not give up on this couple
Randal is open about his infidelity and drug use. Traci describes her disrespect for Randal and the ways she hurt him. However, in 2019, God visited their home, particularly pouring into Randal with healing and revelation.
Were Randal and Traci deserving of a 10 day miracle manifestation of God that utterly changed their marriage and mission in life? I think they’d be the first to say no, yet God saw them in their helplessness and came in to help them. That’s who He is.
Biblical Proof #3 – God’s grace
God is so good. All the time. He so often blesses us far beyond what we can ask or imagine. That’s His way.
I was recently sitting in a church small group. Together, they were studying the story from Luke 24:13-35. It is the story about two men walking towards a village called Emmaus. The crucifixion of Jesus had only just recently happened and the men were sad and trying to make sense of the events.
Jesus joins them to encourage them
A man joins them. It is the risen Jesus! He asks them what they are talking about and they say, “Are you the only person who doesn’t know what’s happened? A prophet named Jesus has been crucified. We thought he was going to be the one to redeem Israel but he was killed and some of our companions found his tomb empty.
The Savior did not give up on them
Now, the people in this small group, unfortunately, picked up the next verse as being the central point of the story. They read Jesus’ words and said He was rebuking the two men (and us) for unbelief. To them, that was the main point.
The line I’m speaking of is Luke 24:25. Jesus said, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” Yes, he seemed to be chiding them. But, the Bible then says that Jesus began to teach them from Moses through the Prophets, saying that all these scriptures pointed to Jesus.
Then He broke bread with them
Going on to the village with Jesus breaking bread at their table, the men suddenly realized that they were sitting with the risen Jesus. And they said, “Didn’t our hearts burn when He spoke about scripture?” after Jesus suddenly disappeared. Then, the men went to Jerusalem to tell the others.
When they described their Divine encounter with Jesus, they called Him “the Lord,” not a prophet, and said He was risen. Jesus’ visitation with them helped them believe and understand. Full of grace, Jesus came to them, not to berate them but to help them move forward in faith. He wants to do that for us too.
Biblical Proof # 4 – God’s love
Finally, God is so often compared to a loving parent in the Bible. Even Jesus called Him “Abba,” the Aramaic version of Papa.
At one point, Jesus said to His disciples (Luke 11:11-13 NIV), “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Now, Jesus was telling them specifically about being filled with the Holy Spirit, but God the Father is so willing to provide for His children in countless other ways.
A name for God in the Old Testament is Jehovah Jireh which means God our Provider. But He has countless other names, Our Healer, Our Deliverer, the God who sees me, and so on.
God won’t give up on you
One of the most beautiful verses about God’s patience with us despite our immaturity and continued need to grow up is 2 Peter 3:9 NIV:
It says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.”
God does not give up on any of us, but wants all of us to be in relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross. God is not ready to push you away because you make new mistakes. Just return to Him each time and say, “Father, forgive me.”
What about the unpardonable sin?
Jesus, at one point, gave this strong warning. He said, “Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mark 3:28-29 NIV) This warning can also be found in Matthew 12:31-32 and Luke 12:10.
And, a few other New Testament passages also contain this concept. They are Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews 10:26-31 and 1 John 5:16.
Your concern shows He hasn’t given up on you
But for those who worry (and many do), “I think I have committed the unpardonable sin,” know this: If you are feeling sad, sorry, or worried, you have not committed the unpardonable sin. For you are still being prompted by the Spirit to examine yourself in order to think about repenting for something. People who have blasphemed the Spirit will not have this worry or any urge to repent.
Additionally, if you still believe in Jesus, you have not committed an unpardonable sin. The Holy Spirit leads us to Jesus and causes us to believe in Him. Those who believe in Jesus have not blasphemed the Spirit.
Should we be casual about sin? No!
I am not saying in this article that sin is “not a big deal.” It is a BIG deal and we need to repent and stop whatever we are doing that goes against God’s ways and heart. As soon as we realize it.
But, we’re more likely to do that if we believe in God’s faithfulness, forgiveness, grace, and love. And, we’re more likely to do it, if we remember Christ took our place and died for us, causing our sins to be forgiven, and making the path for us to be free and without shame. As Pastor Joseph Prince often says in the devotional book I mentioned above, “be cross conscious, not sin conscious.”
Jesus did not come to condemn but to save
Remember the wonderful opening to 1 John 3:6 that says, “No one who lives in him [Jesus] keeps on sinning.” If we abide in Christ, the Vine, as one of His branches. His life will continue to pour into us, transforming us. Soon, we’ll say, “Remember when I used to ___________(some sin or habit), I don’t do that any more. Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, changed me from the inside out! He helped me because He loves me.
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