A list of do’s and don’ts. Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t steal. Don’t lust after what others have or people of the opposite sex. Don’t swear. Or drink. Or smoke.
I grew up with the don’ts hung neatly on my bedroom wall. Don’t sass Mom or Dad. Don’t curse. Don’t lie. I can’t remember all the don’ts, but each one had consequences. A spanking or stint in my room. Something given or something taken away but all with the intent I not repeat the don’t.
My picture of God was negative and punitive in those former years. He was even stricter than my parents. Not only did Mom and Dad have their rules, but God did too—and more of them. Mom and Dad’s hung in an 8 ½ by 11 picture frame, but God’s took 66 books to record. I had my doubts I’d ever please him or find any joy trying.
Later in life, I discovered a different picture of God. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! (John 15:11 NLT)
While sin angers God and brings his wrath against those who choose to ignore him and wallow in it, he’s not really angry with me. He proved it by sending his Son to pay for my sins—not the type of positive action negative anger produces. God’s base trait is love…unconditional love…the kind that wants to redeem and prosper rather than punish for every little mistake made.
Living with a legalistic cloud above you—all the while believing God is continually mad at you because you fall short of his standards, will never produce the joy he desires to implant in your heart. So cheer up! God isn’t mad at you after all.
Prayer: Thank You precious Father for the joy that comes in knowing all our sins have been forgiven and we’ve been restored to a right relationship with You through Christ.
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