Bible Reading: Ephesians 2:4-10
Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Ephesians 2:9
Jeremy was one of the most popular boys in his neighborhood. All year long he had a group of guys over playing games, scarfing a feast of snacks, and hanging in front of the wide-screen TV. And a couple of times each summer he invited his best buddies to his parents’ cabin, where they ramped through the woods on four-wheelers. Get the picture? Jeremy had a waiting list of people who wanted to be his friend. Then Jeremy’s dad lost his job-and his family had to sell off almost everything they owned. Gone were the big house full of toys, the wide-screen TV, and the cabin on the lake. Jeremy’s family landed in a small apartment nearby so he and his sister wouldn’t have to change schools.
A few months after the downsizing, Jeremy had no buddies. “My friends weren’t interested in me,” he said. “They were my friends only when we had stuff.”
Talk about it: Have you ever felt like someone wanted to be your friend because your backyard had a monster sandbox? Or because you got the season’s hottest new video game for your birthday?
If all we know is love with strings attached, we might have a hard time believing God loves us just because he does.
Tamera, for example, used to hear about God’s love and think, What’s he really want? She would get suspicious of God’s kindness, wondering what the catch was. But now she says she’s learned that God does want her to love and obey him. But he loves her whether or not she loves him back.
Jim figures he has to strike a bargain with God. I need to straighten out my life before God will care about me, he thinks. But God says, “I already accept you just the way you are. I proved it by sending my Son to die for you while you were lost in your sin” (see Romans 5:8).
Because God loves us unconditionally, we don’t have to perform perfectly to get God to accept us. That’s what Paul meant when he wrote, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV). Our acceptance with God isn’t based on our good deeds or great attitudes or on anything snappy we’ve done for him. He loves us unconditionally because of what he has done. When God shows us his love, there’s no catch. He really cares.
TALK: God loves you unconditionally. What does that mean to your everyday life?
PRAY: Father, you love me without strings. Thanks.
ACT: Show some love to a friend today—just because you want to.