Today I read somebody writing about that verse (Rom. 3:10). I knew that there was a lot of people who didn’t like that verse, who insisted they were “good people.” But I’d never seen someone think of it exactly like this before. She felt that it was taken out of context (I disagree, but I digress), but most strikingly, she felt that if this verse meant exactly what it meant, that she could not be loved. That those who used the verse to mean, bluntly, what it said, were turning God into a bogey-man instead of a loving God.
This stunned me a little, because I’ve always felt the exact opposite: that this verse has always been a huge comfort, and helps to show the width and length and depth and height of the love of Christ (Eph. 3:18).
I realize that is not how it was used in her life, especially in her youth. She was raised in guilt, shame, fear and disapproval—constantly—and she can only equate “not good” with “not loved”. I find it very sad, because, essentially, it seems she does not yet understand love.
The release of this verse is that my being loved does not depend on my being good enough, that no one is better than me and I’m the only wicked one failing, that I cannot make Him stop loving me. That, indeed, while we were yet sinners, He loved us anyway. There is great comfort and abolishment of fear in that. It also informs us how to love, for we are no better than anyone else, either; we have all, without exception, sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
She thinks it was taken out of context; I don’t think it was. Jesus told the rich young man, “Why do you call me good? There is no one good but God.” Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors, not the “good” Pharisees. Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus told the parable of the very good Sadducee and the repentant sinner. Jesus was looking for those in need of a doctor, not those who thought they were well.
To agree with God that He alone is good and holy is to honor Him and recognize how far above us He is. To comprehend that, in spite of our general sin-nature and specific sins, He wholly loves us anyway is to know peace. There is no fear in it.
She writes that “I grew up with a theology that told me I was a bad person. . .And because I thought this way about myself, I felt undeserving of love.” She doesn’t agree with where that leaves her—unloved—and so she wishes to banish it all. I don’t agree with where it leaves her, but I think she simply hasn’t taken it far enough: inherently, intrinsically evil, undeserving of love—and YET! Loved anyway. Unconditionally and unfailingly and relentlessly. Not because any of us is good enough, or deserves it, but because God’s love is a love that knows no bounds.
Her response to her son’s questioning is to “love him unconditionally”, and so banish his fears of not being good enough. But the fear that springs from not being good enough is the fear that love is not truly unconditional. Oh, that she would find her Father does an even better job of loving her unconditionally than she could ever, because of human limitation, unconditionally love her son.
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11)
Don’t be afraid, my friend. Remember Paul, if you’re not quite sure: He went around killing off as many of Christ’s followers as he could, and God took him in anyway. He loves, He is merciful, and He made a way in spite of our fallenness. That’s the Good News, is it not?
1. Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.
2. Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.
3. Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.
4. View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies;
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?
5. Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.
6. Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.