Our sweet Emma-bug has recently accomplished quite a feat and Kelly and I are very proud of her. What is this grand feat that our beautiful 4 year old has accomplished? Has she composed her first Concerto? Has she taken the brush of prose and with fine, measured strokes written a literary masterpiece? Has she scaled the summit of Everest? While she hasn't yet done these things, what she has accomplished is pretty much the same thing-Emma has mastered the art of brushing her teeth all by herself. (guess the picture sort of gave it away there, didn't it?) I'll wait while you "ooh", "ahh", and applaud...still waiting...done? OK.
Now you might say, "Why are you excited about that? Brushing your own teeth isn't such a big deal." And in the grand scheme of things, you're correct. Emma's ability to independently brush her teeth isn't going to change the world; she's not going to win any prizes or accolades for it. But I'm still proud of her. Why? Because I'm her daddy. And it doesn't take much to impress a daddy. When my kids do anything worthwhile, I'm proud of them (and sometimes, I'm proud even when it isn't worthwhile at all). Most any parent is this way, right? When our kids learn to do the smallest things, we're proud of them. When they can brush their teeth, we applaud; when they can change their own clothes, we praise them. At each stage of life, we applaud their accomplishments. We don't expect everything they do to change the world; we're just proud of them for what they've done. They're our children, they belong to us. And since that's the case, we rejoice in even the smallest things they do.
What's the point of this? Simple. As I was swelling with pride about Emma's new accomplishment, I was reminded that God gets proud of us over little things too. Now for some reason we don't want to believe that, do we? We think that we've got to accomplish great things for God. And we certainly ought to, in the words of William Carey, "Attempt great things for God." But like any parent, God is proud of us for little stuff too. Want an example? Matthew 8, Jesus is approached by a centurion. This soldier had a sick servant at home and asked Jesus to heal him. Jesus agrees to come to his house and heal his servant. But the centurion's reply really caught Jesus' attention. He said, vs8, "“Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed." The centurion clearly recognized Jesus' authority, and His ability to heal. He recognized that a Man who could heal sickness would have no problem healing from great distances, right? A pretty simple, pretty logical deduction. But notice what happened next, 10; "When Jesus heard it, He marveled..." What does that mean? He was stunned; He was amazed. He went on to say, "Assuredly I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!" Sounds to me like Jesus was pretty proud of this guy. And it didn't take much to impress Him, did it? A simple recognition of His authority and His ability, and Jesus is marveling at this centurion.
Now how often in our lives do we live in guilt, beating ourselves up about our perceived failures? We think, "Lord, I've never done anything 'big' for You, I'm not accomplishing much for Your kingdom." And if you aren't following Jesus, if you aren't trying to advance His kingdom you ought to feel guilty about that. It's the duty of every follower of Christ to faithfully serve Christ. But sometimes, we feel guilty even when we're following Him, don't we? Here's what we've got to take hold of: it doesn't take much to impress God. He knows what we're capable of. Ps. 103:14, "For He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust." God knows that we aren't capable of much. Frankly, apart from Him we aren't capable of anything. That's why when He sees such a small display of faith, He marvels. And that's why, when He sees anything that we do in His name and for His glory, He's proud. And the reason He's proud isn't that we've done something that will change the world (Although, who knows what God can do through our tiny offerings of obedience and faith? We're still talking about this centurion's act of faith 2000 years later). It's that we belong to Him. And even more, when we do things in His name for His glory, that's evidence of Christ within us. Paul said that he could do all things through Christ who gave him strength. Whenever we're doing things for the glory of God, we're not doing them in our own ability, we're doing them through the supernatural enabling of the Son of God, through the Spirit of God. And that's the whole reason God saved us, isn't it? To glorify Him, through obedience and faith. Don't think that you've got to move mountains, swim oceans or any of that stuff. Concentrate on obeying God. Concentrate on taking one step at a time, by faith in God, through the power of God. And know that when you do, your Father is proud of you. God didn't save you because of what you could do for Him. He saved you in spite of the fact that you could do nothing for Him-and He loved you anyway.
Father, thank You for saving me. Thank You for calling me to Yourself, for granting Me faith and repentance, and for forgiving my sins. Thank You for letting me serve You. Help me remember that You do all the hard work-my job is to trust in You, and to obey when You call me. Help me to not listen to the lies of the enemy. Help me to embrace the fact that I am loved and accepted and a part of Your family-not because of anything I've done, but because of Jesus has done for me. Help me live in that truth, and share it with others. Amen.