There is this constant nagging in our minds because of the standards of the world around us that we can somehow merit or earn God’s love. We’ve got to do something! Israel, especially at the time of Christ, had redefined God’s law in such a way that one could believe that they lived up to the standards God has set. Thus, if we set some kind of lower standard, like not being as bad as Ted Bundy or Adolph Hitler, we’ll be approved by God for our behavior. Of course this is what the Israelites did by “rejecting” God’s standards as they stand. We have a tendency to do that too in such a way as to justify ourselves before God. We will always fail at this. God’s standard has always been and always will be absolute perfection.

Another way Israel tried to earn God’s love and feel they deserved His favor was to keep the rituals of the Law. Many of us today still think that church attendance, bible study, ministry to others, or partaking of the sacrament of communion, we can satisfy God’s demands on us and find a sense of peace with God. Israel was doing that in Jeremiah’s day and he spoke for God in 6:20 and said, “What use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba, or sweet cane from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing to me.” Really! Think about it. What does God want from us that He doesn’t already have? What does He gain with all the sacrifices and offerings we might make to Him? Nothing! The whole universe is His and everything in it! He is not a needy, hungry, or thirsty God that needs to be serviced like many of the local deities in the lands around Israel in Jeremiah’s day.

Jesus was once asked “What must I do to work the works of God.” His answer is recorded in John 6:29. He said, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.” As I’ve argued for years, what God wants from all of us, what He wanted from Adam and Eve, is to simply trust Him. He wants us to believe His word and to put no confidence in the flesh. It’s not easy to do! It sounds easy but life’s circumstances and situations come along to challenge our faith in God often. Every one of us will face pain and struggles along the way and it’s not always easy to trust that God has our best interest foremost in mind and will keep His promise to “work all things together for our good.” But that’s exactly what He wants from us! He wants us to trust Him. That’s the only way to please God.