Have you ever done something for someone and they just didn’t appreciate it?
I remember back when my kids were little, every time one of their birthdays rolled around, I would make their cake. They got to request a specific theme, and then I tried to come up with something that worked. Some years were more challenging than others!
The year Brody turned 11, he wanted a cake that kind of represented all the things he was interested in: sports, art, his spiritual life.
I spent a lot of time on that cake, dividing it into four equal parts and drawing miniature representations of each thing in each section. I made each of the four section different colors.
It was definitely a labor of love.
When it was time to bring out his cake, I was really excited for him to see it. Smiling, I brought it out from a back room and set it down in front of him.
Instead of the delight I had envisioned, he wrinkled his nose. Then, he pointed to one of the paint brushes I had carefully drawn with icing. “What’s that?” The disdain was clear in his voice. “It looks like a straw or something.” He continued to point out things that weren’t quite right.
I’ll be honest. I was hurt, and more than a little angry.
It hurts when we do something out of love, and the recipient doesn’t love it – or worse is critical. Even if it is just a birthday cake.
Imagine how God feels, then, when we snub His gift of salvation?
As I sat in the Good Friday service this year, the one phrase that kept coming to me over and over again was Romans 2:4
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
That verse wasn’t even part of the service that night, but this phrase from this verse just kept washing over me, and I was moved to tears by it.
God gave His Son to die, not just a painful death but a humiliating death for us.
And people ignore that gift.
Worse, they often outright reject that gift, mocking it or calling it a crutch for weak and stupid people.
I can’t even imagine how that hurts God’s heart.
And God’s response?
It isn’t anger.
It isn’t instant retaliation.
No, His response is kindness. It’s love. It’s a gentle wooing of the lost.
If I was God (we can all be very thankful I am not – am I right?) I would want to FORCE people to accept my sacrifice and my gift. I would want to make them see how awesome it really was for me to do that for them. Even though they didn’t deserve it. Even though they were vile and sinners.
But God doesn’t do that.
He loves us so much that He gives us free will – even when rejecting His gift breaks His heart.
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. I Peter 3:9
It hurts His heart to send people to hell. He doesn’t want to do it – even when those people mock Him and reject Him and make fun of His great sacrifice for them.
I don’t know about you, but that completely undoes me. My mind can’t wrap around a love that great.
But I can be thankful that that same love is directed toward me.
Because the truth is, while I don’t mock or reject God’s gift, I can take it for granted. It can start to feel so familiar, I lose my wonder of the great thing Jesus did – not just for the world – but for me!
And while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me.
Oh Lord, never let me become used to your sacrifice or take it for granted. Let me continually be overwhelmed and in awe of your great love for me!