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? I’m trying to make the doctrine of God’s love practical, and looking at what it actually means. What does it mean to love someone that you don’t really like? I guess I just don’t get that.
Does God think I’m weird? Does he think that church would be better if I didn’t show up? Does he roll his eyes and sigh when I cry out to him yet again?
Yes, I know that God hates sin and calls me to repent. I also know that he has cleansed me from sin. I know that he does not tolerate sin. I’m not talking about sin. I’m talking about the fact that I really like colored socks and don’t know what to say to strangers I’ve just met. I’m talking about the kind of clothes that I wear and the kind of music I like. I wear waistcoats and hats and say weird things.
Does God like me? I am not speaking about the independence of God. I know that God does not need his creatures, including me, for anything. I do not add to his blessedness, for in him are all the perfections of holiness. I add nothing to God. I get that.
But does God like me?
Here’s why I believe this question is important. We were created to be social, in fellowship. We were created to be loved and have friends, to walk with God, to speak with him in the cool of the day. We were created to live in harmony with one another. We were created to be accepted and to love and be loved and to belong. To know and to be known.
And we still have that memory of Eden. We still have the need to belong. My heart still cries out to belong, to fit in, to be acceptable. The human heart cannot abide being outcast. No one can live thinking that everyone wishes they would go away, that everyone just thinks they are stupid, fat, smelly, ugly and weird. We cannot live thinking that we are totally unacceptable. This is the insidious nature of abuse. It tears down and destroys what the heart longs for the most. The words of a spouse can hurt and destroy and kill far more than any weapon imaginable. To be unacceptable, banished from love, and undesirable is intolerable to an image-bearer of God.
So the question is very important. Does God like me?
If God does not like me, then I must seek acceptance elsewhere. The stupidest, most shameful things I have ever done I did to try to be accepted. I sought the approval of men, and failed all the way around. I still blush when I think of it.
But if I do not seek the approval of men, whose approval do I seek, if God does not like me?
Do you see what I am getting at?
What do I do to be accepted? I am loved because of Jesus Christ, but does God accept me? Does God like me? Do I need to wear more acceptable, “god-like” clothing? Use more Christian-like phrases? Do I need to change my personality to something more acceptable to God?
Once again, I am not talking about sin. I know I need to confess and flee from sin. I am asking what I need to do for God to like me. Does God like me? Am I likeable?
And when I asked that question, scripture after scripture after scripture came to my mind and I felt free at last.
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Eph 1:5-6)
God chose ME because he wanted to, and he made me accepted in the beloved. God DOES like me, and I am accepted by him!
As for my body and my face,
14 I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from Thee, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.
16 Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Thy book they were all written… (Psalm 139:14-16)
He put together my frame, my form, my face. He gave me my hair and my eyes. he gave me this belly and these feet. He doesn’t think of me as defiled, ugly, unclean, untouchable, for he made me. He gave me these parts, and behold they are very good.
Get thee behind me, Satan! God gave me this face and said it was very good! How dare you insult the frame that God gave to me! I’m not dirty and untouchable and unlovable!
As for my gifts and personalities,
18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.
19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
20 But now there are many members, but one body. (1Cor. 12:18-20)
(Read the whole chapter!) See how God has chosen ME and has given me the gifts that he gave me. He gave me those gifts on purpose. He knew what he was doing. He gave me my weird personality, he gave me my strange quirks. In fact, it is because I am different that I am valuable to the body of Christ, according to this text. If we were all an eye, who would do the hearing?
Look around your church, look at your fellow believers. God gave each of them their gifts, their looks, their abilities, their perspectives, their cultural and social background. And he did it ON PURPOSE.
It is his good pleasure to give you all the kingdom.
Does God like us?
17 “The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. (Zeph. 3:17)
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (Psa 100:3)
Our God, thrice holy, infinite and almighty, the creator and sustainer of the earth made ME, and made me on purpose. He gave me my personality, my background, my gifts. he gave me the body that I have, and even the flaws are counted – like how many hairs fall.
And he said it was very good. He redeemed me in Christ, and calls me to put off the old man with the fears and the doubts. He told me not to be a man-pleaser, but to seek to please him.
Because of the work of the Lord Jesus, and because I belong to him by faith, I am accepted by God. And because I am loved, God has given me his spirit, and given me gifts.
And when I am kind, when I use my gifts to his glory, when I rest in him, when I trust in him, when I cry out to him, he accepts me. He delights in ME.
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?
Be kind, courageous and faithful, for your God is with you!