I have heard many people ask the question, “What is it about me that made God love me so much that He would be willing to endure the wrath of God in order to save me?”
That is a very good question; but unfortunately the question itself reveals a lack of understanding about the Gospel. Titus 3:5 says:
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”
The simple answer to this question people often ask is, “Nothing.”
There is nothing in you that is so great that it made God want to save you. The thing that made God want to save you was “his mercy.” It was God’s character, not ours, that made Him decide to save us.
Some people might find this offensive. They think there has to be something lovely in someone in order for someone else to love them. Apparently, Jesus did not agree. In Matthew 5:44b, Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” He continued in verse 45 to explain why, by saying, “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven…” Then in verse 46, He said, “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?”
So Jesus said it is a characteristic of sinful people to love those who deserve to be loved; whether it be because they love you, or because they are family, or because they have done good things for you.
On the other hand it is the character of your Father in Heaven, God, to love those who are His enemies. He loves those who do not deserve it. He loves those who are not His Family. He loves those who hate Him. All throughout the Old Testament we see God declaring that He would take those who were not His People and make them His People. That is a picture of God taking those who are His enemies, and making them His Family.
How does He do that? God does that by loving people who do not deserve to be loved. That is you; and that is me.
So, by trying to figure out what about yourself is so lovely that God would have mercy on you, you are basically trying to take credit for what He did. Please don’t do that! Let God alone receive all the glory for saving you; not because you were lovely or did anything good; but because He is a merciful and loving God.
Paul warned us of this in Romans 12:3:
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
Paul’s warning is that we should not think too highly of ourselves. Instead we should think soberly. That is the opposite of drunk. In other words, we should think clear-minded.
We should not put on the rose-colored glasses of the world before we look at ourselves in the mirror. We should see ourselves clearly. That will typically make you think much less of yourself than you had; but will in turn make you think more highly of the God who loved you and had mercy on you, mercy that you did not deserve.
Isn’t that the definition of mercy? If you deserve it, then it is your wages, your just due. Instead, God gives us mercy, because we do not deserve it. That’s what makes it mercy.
And why does He do that? Because He is merciful!
Oh, dear brothers, please don’t listen to the ear-tickling preachers who want to make you feel better about yourself. The more highly you think of yourself, the lower you think of God, and the more you have replaced Him on the throne of your heart with yourself.
Learn the lesson of the prophet Isaiah when he came into the presence of the Holy God, and recognize your unworthiness. It is only then, after you humble yourself, that God can make you clean by having mercy on you.
The great joy set before Jesus which made Him endure the cross was not you; like so many preachers say. It was the Glory of God.
But the great news for you is that your greatest joy will only come from lifting up God. That is what you were made for.