Read: Matthew 7
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” (Matthew 7:21-23, NLT)
“I never knew you!” Those are truly sobering words, aren’t they! They used to scare me a lot in my younger day of faith. I mean, if a person can be doing all those things for God—prophesying biblical truth, casing out demons, even performing miracles…all things that are pretty high on the “things I’d like to do for God” list—and still get rejected by God, wow, who can walk confidently in their faith, who can truly have the assurance of salvation?
But here is the deal: True Christianity is not first of all a religion of the hands, it is a relationship of the heart. It is not so much what you do for God to earn his favor, it is accepting what God has done for you through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ that counts. Before anything we do for God must come a heart full of love for him. What does a heart full of love for God look like? Simply this: gratitude for what he has done and wonder at his undeserved gift of mercy and grace that saved a wretched, unworthy sinner like me. It is the heart that matters!
Now obviously, measuring the love within a person’s heart is not such an easy thing to do. That’s why people want to base their worth and acceptability before God by what they do—something far more easily measured. But over and over again, the Bible points out that it is not what we do that earns any credit with God, it is all based on what he has done for us. We cannot earn our salvation—we can only give effort to doing the good things that gratefully saved people ought to do.
There is one thing, however, that evidences our love for God more than anything else: When we love other people as ourselves. In fact, Jesus said the first greatest law of God was to love God heart, mind and spirit, and the second greatest law was to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39, NLT) Here is another way to look at that: You can’t love God without loving people, and you can’t truly love people without loving God.
So when Jesus said to those who had worked so hard for their salvation, “I never knew you, get away from me you who break God’s laws”, what he was really saying was this:
“Go away! You obviously didn’t know me because you didn’t fulfill the two greatest laws of all—to love God wholeheartedly, and out of that love for him, to love others as much as you loved yourself.”
God wants your heart—your response to his love that shows itself in a delighting, awestruck, grateful head-over-heels love for him and a tender, compassionate, serving love for others.
Really now, isn’t that relieving? All you and I have to do is love God so much so that it just overflows from our hearts back toward him and out toward others. And after all that he has done for us, I personally think that shouldn’t be such a hard ting to do!
“The litmus test of our love for God is our love of neighbor.” ~Brennan Manning
What If God Took Over?
Memorize Revelation 3:4-5, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.”