“Daddy, look in my eyes. I love you!”

by Rob Tims

This spontaneous outburst of affection by my 3 year-old daughter emotionally stunned me. There we were—simply playing with her toys, reading her books, and tickling each other on occasion—when she requested my direct gaze in order to tell me some pretty incredible news.

As if I weren’t already wrapped around her finger.

Yet as unexpected and unhindered as her declaration was, I later couldn’t help but think I had done something to deserve it. I had performed well enough as her father to earn her love. I provided all of the basics of life, and many of the necessities of a Williamson County, TN childhood. I spent time with her and likely spoiled her to a degree.

Why wouldn’t she love me given how good I am?

It is the same mentality some have toward God.

Like the man in Mark 10:17-31, we view ourselves as pretty darn good people.

Our lies are white.

Our idols are small.

Our worship is adequate.

Our work is successful.

We are good people … the kind we’d want our sons and daughters to marry.

Why wouldn’t God love us given how good we are?

Yet the paradox of the gospel is that hell is filled with such people … people who expect God to love them based on their goodness. The thing that blows the mind of this man in Mark 10 is that only God is truly good, and that His love for people isn’t based on their goodness, but His (Mark 10:17-21).

How are we to respond to such love?

If we love our goodness more than His, we become confused and despondent. But if we love His goodness more than ours, we become free to follow Him rather than perform for Him.

Folks, God’s love for us is not based on our goodness, but on His. He loves us just the way we are because of the way He is. He looks into our eyes (Mark 10:21) and loves us … enough to tell us that we have to exchange our goodness for His own.

Fortunately for me, I’ve a daughter He is using to remind me of this on a regular basis.

Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.

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