For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
It’s an oft-quoted Bible verse. We love its reminder of God’s love for us and plans for our future. But allow me to direct your attention to a much less popular verse in Jeremiah 29 that I like…
I will pursue them with sword, famine, and pestilence, and will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, a terror, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, because they did not pay attention to my words, declares the Lord, that I persistently sent to you by my servants the prophets, but you would not listen, declares the Lord.’
You just got so blessed from reading that didn’t you? I’m sure that verse is already highlighted in your Bible. NOT. You’re not going to find Jeremiah 29:18 on a plaque on someone’s wall or a mug in someone’s cupboard. So why do I like Jeremiah 29:18? Because it makes me love Jeremiah 29:11 all the more. I love that God made a promise about His love for His people and plans for their future in the middle of their rebellion. Ironically, while they were ignoring God, some of the things they weren’t listening to were beautiful promises like Jeremiah 29:11.
I love verses 18-19 because sometimes we need to see the bad in order to understand the good even better. Sometimes I need to see the ugliness of my sin so I can understand the beauty of His grace all the more. God doesn’t love you and have big plans for your future because you’re a really good person. He just loves you because that’s what He does.
God does not love you for what you do for Him; He loves you for you.
That’s hard to understand because nothing in life is free. Everything – at some level – was earned or paid for by somebody somewhere. Grace doesn’t compute because it is unearnable. You can’t do a single thing to ever get close to being worthy of it. When that sinks in, you can finally stop trying to earn God’s love, and instead, be motivated by it.
Take some time today and thank God for His unconditional love for you, and ask Him to help you live from His love instead of for His love.
K E V I N • M I L L E R
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