“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16-17 ESV)
During my life I’ve worked both as a teacher and as a tutor. Do you know the difference? The obvious one is that teachers usually work with large classes, while tutors work one-on-one. But I found there was an emotional difference as well. When I was the teacher, my students were nervous and uncomfortable around me, and I had to work really hard to change that. They automatically thought of me as an adversary—as someone who was looking for reasons to lower their grade. But when I was a tutor, right from the beginning my students knew I was on their side. I wasn’t handing out grades; if I pointed out an error, they knew I was doing it so they would succeed in school. That meant that our relationship was better, right from the start.
Now of course this isn’t fair to teachers who love their students and have their best interests at heart. But students don’t always think that deeply, do they? And so they do their teachers an injustice. They assume that their goal is to condemn. And that messes up the relationship.
As human beings, we do something really similar with God. We know that He is our Maker, that He knows us through and through, and that some day He will be our Judge. And we know that we are sinners—that we do not live up to God’s perfection—that if He decided to hand out grades on our lives, we’d fail! Small wonder that we approach God as an adversary. We know that we deserve to be condemned, and we automatically assume that’s what God wants to do.
Against this, Jesus cries out from His heart: “God so loved the world … God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16-17 ESV)
I think it must break God’s heart to watch the way we tiptoe around Him, sometimes—reading the worry in our eyes, and the fear in our hearts. That is not what God wants for us! He wants us to live—to be saved—to have everlasting, joyful, good life with Him forever, full of love and blessing. He wants that so much that He came into our world to be our Savior—Jesus, the Son of God, who suffered and died for our sakes. He took away the condemnation that lay against us. Now that He has risen from the dead, we can be absolutely sure that all of us who trust in Him can approach God with thankful love and confidence. He has told us so: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1-2b ESV).
Prayer: Father, thank You that You want the best for me, and not to condemn me. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Reprinted with permission from Lutheran Hour Ministries
1. What is one situation in your life where you were worried about others condemning you?
2. Who was your best teacher or boss? How did you know they had your best interests at heart?
3. How can you keep in mind the fact that God loves you dearly and wants you safe, not condemned?