Do you ever feel like you’re “not good enough” to be loved by God?
I ask because I often think that deep inside, you and I can feel like what we’ve done in our past somehow disqualifies us from being loved by God.
This was brought home to me a number of years ago when an acquaintance, who had known me quite well in my past, heard me preach. Afterward, she wrote me a scathing, incredulous letter, saying, “Bayless, what about your past? How can you stand up there before all those people and preach the Bible? I know what you were like!”
I wrote her back and said, “What you wrote is true. And there is a whole lot in my past that is actually worse than anything you know. But Jesus changed me.”
Paul writes in Ephesians 3:7–8,
“I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
Notice, Paul doesn’t say, “I became a minister because I was so studious, eloquent, and charismatic that, frankly, God needed me.” No, Paul refers to himself as “less than the least.” He realized it was God’s call, God’s choice, God’s gift, God’s power, God’s grace, and God’s unsearchable riches.
Paul learned a two-part lesson, expressed in these verses, which I think every one of us needs to be schooled in. First, Paul never forgot where he came from. He always kept in mind what his life had been like without Christ. As he writes in 1 Corinthians 15:9,
“For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”
A little later, Paul writes to the Corinthians again and reveals the second part of the lesson: Even though he never forgot where he came from, he didn’t live under a cloud of guilt concerning the past.
Though he previously said, “[I] am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God,” he writes in 2 Corinthians 7:2, “Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one.”
We see a divine tension between these two truths.
Now, the only way others can know you have truly changed is by observing over time the consistent fruit of a changed lifestyle. While that process is going on, you might have to learn to live with some people’s skepticism.
But we read later in Ephesians 3:11b–12, “Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him,” which means we have access to the Father.
We can approach God with boldness and confidence because of what Christ has done. We can come without fear or shame because we belong to God’s family. We can boldly make our requests known to our heavenly Father.
What a wonderful thing!
Jesus said to His disciples in John 16:26–27, “In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you.”
In the next chapter, John 17:23, Jesus says to the Father, “That the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”
It is more than the mind can take in! You are as welcome in the presence of a holy God as the Savior, Jesus Christ is, because of what Jesus did for you. You are not an outcast or beggar, but family. You have been chosen to display God’s grace and wisdom.
When you accept this truth, Jesus can help you never forget, and never be held back by, where you came from.
May God bless you… and may you know that in Jesus you are truly good enough!
Do you find yourself lost, without direction or purpose?
Or maybe you just need a little dose of inspiration every day… Sign up to receive the FREE daily devotional from Pastor Bayless.