I am not just barely tolerated by God, but accepted in the beloved. He loves ME, and, yes, if I may say so, he likes me. And so let’s all put aside our doubts and our fears and run this race together, shall we? Let’s quit trying to lift ourselves up by tearing one another down. Let’s quit trying to one-up each other, bragging and boasting about our accomplishments. Let’s quit worrying about whether anyone else likes us or not. If God is for us, who can possibly be against us.
8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. (Jam 3:8-9)
How many of us have been attacked by the tongue? How many live at home with a reviler and are subjected to the lash of ugly words?
No one even likes you.
You are worthless.
If it wasn’t for me, no one would even tolerate you.
There are millions who were raised by cruel and harsh men and women who have never known a kind word; who have never known what it is to be accepted or loved.
And there are also millions who scoff and say, “It’s only words. I just get angry sometimes…” To you, I have just one thing to say: Please read carefully Matthew 5:22 and meditate on how you use words. You are in danger of hell. If you have ever called one of God’s children ugly, fat, stupid, worthless, unlovable – who shall deliver you from the wrath to come? It is a dangerous thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Your words do not come from God. They are lit on fire from hell.
These are not the words that we have learned from Christ Jesus. He taught us to use words of truth and grace, seasoned with salt, edifying to the hearer.
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. (Eph 4:29)
There are so many ways to tear people down with words. One of the most insidious is to never revile out loud, but just simply let your victim know that they really aren’t very likeable. Perhaps they are weird. Perhaps they do things differently. Perhaps they think a little…not like you. This is the classic passive-aggressive bully. God hates it.
This one is close to my heart, because I am…let’s face it…weird. I cannot small talk for anything. I have no idea what is going on in any sporting event. I say weird things at weird times. I don’t have a clue what “guys do”. At my bachelor party, two of my friends picked me up from work and said, “This is YOUR NIGHT. You can do whatever you want!” I sat on their couch and stared at them for two hours until they let me go home.
I’m weird. There is no situation where I am not awkward, no conversation that I can’t stop by saying something very weird.
And most of my life, I was absolutely convinced that most people would be far happier if I just went home. So I usually did.
It occurred to me the other day that I have a hard time believing that anyone likes me. And then it occurred to me that I carry this belief to God himself. Does God actually like me?
It is an interesting question. I think that question is particularly difficult for those who have been attacked with the tongue. How can anyone like me? Does God like me? Does it matter?
It isn’t the same as “Does God love me”. We know that God does love us. He loves us with perfect, infinite, unchanging love in Jesus Christ, his beloved Son. We also know that nothing separates us from his love.
But does he like me?
I’ve heard of parents who say to their kids, “I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”
I’ve heard husbands say that about their wives. “I love her, but I sure don’t like her at times.”
And our greatest fear is that God just barely tolerates us. He loves us in Christ, but really just wishes we would go away. Can you think of anything more shameful than hearing God say, “I love you, but I sure don’t like you much.”
Do you see what I am getting at?