I’ve been retired for two years now. It’s hard! My wife and son get up and go to work everyday. I get up with them and we do our morning routine of exercise and devotional discussions but when they leave for work, I do whatever I want. Sometimes it’s productive, but honestly, most of the time it’s not. I’m still trying to find my niche in the retirement community. When my wife gets home she asks, “what did you do today?” but I hear, “you lazy bum, why don’t you do something worthwhile?” So I attempt to justify my day by either exaggerating what I’ve done or sometimes making up stuff that I know I should have done but didn’t. Yes, I’d call that lying! I know I’ve fallen short of what I should do and be, so I have to find ways to justify myself – even if I have to make them up.

Jesus was once asked by a scholar of the law, “What must I do to be saved?” Jesus answered his question with the question, “What does the law say about this?” The lawyer answered, “You must love God with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said, “That’s right, do this and you will have life.” Then Jesus looked the lawyer in the eye and Luke adds this comment about him. He says, “desiring to justify himself” the lawyer brings up another question: “Who is my neighbor?” Obviously, the lawyer knew he had not fulfilled the ultimate commandment and wanted a way to justify his failure.

I am of the opinion that Jesus simply wanted the Lawyer to acknowledge his failure thus opening the door for God’s love expressed on the cross of Calvary to reach him. Romans 5:8 tells us that while we were and are sinners, God demonstrated His love for us in that Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. As long as we’re trying to justify ourselves, we cannot avail ourselves of the Love of God in Christ. Our problem is, we don’t trust God’s unconditional love for us so we fear God instead of loving Him.  We see him as a boss trying to get the most out of us, a policeman hiding behind the billboard trying to catch us doing something wrong, a teacher laying the measuring rod against us to see if we measure up, or a wife condemning us for not being productive. These attributes might be right with bosses, policemen, teachers and even wives, but none of those reflect the truth about God’s attitude towards us.  He loves us unconditionally!

We have trouble receiving God’s love because we know we don’t deserve it. But you see, that’s the point! We begin to experience God’s love when we realize He loves us no matter what. In Psalm 54:10, the Psalmist speaks for God, “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed.” There is no way any of us will ever fulfill the commandment of love without having received God’s love first. In John 4:18-19 we read, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.” The most profound exhortation you can ever hear has nothing to do with trying harder or being better. It is and always will be “Let God Love You!”