Striving To Earn Favor

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So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.
— Psalm 78:72

I love this verse.  It speaks to my heart about the goodness and provision of God.  He feeds.  He guides.  Yes, that's my God.  But it's how He feeds and guides that makes this verse so special. 

He fed them according to the integrity of His heart.  Not the integrity of their hearts.  Not according to their faithfulness or obedience because, if that were the case, they would have starved.  God didn't feed them because they were good, holy or worthy.  He fed them because they were His people, and He watches out for His own.  After all, the very definition of "integrity" is "the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles."  Moral.  Ethical.  Fair.  Right.  Because God is all of these things, the people never went hungry.

As if that weren't enough to give us glory bumps, the verse goes on to tell us that God guided them by the skilfulness of His hand.  Again, not the skilfulness of their hands.  It didn't matter what they did or didn't do for God.  He was faithful to guide them.  When they needed correction, He gave it, but not once did He leave them alone to find their own way.  He led.  He guided.  He directed.  He made sure they knew where they were going and how to get there.  Why?  Because God is good.

Sometimes, I think we, as Christians, seek to find favor with God based on our own integrity or skilfulness.  We seek His approval by our good works and our ongoing service to Him.  Whether we're trying to earn His love or simply prove ourselves to Him, I'm not sure, but we tend to view our relationship with Christ as one based on performance.  The truth is, when we received Christ as Lord of our lives, we were accepted.  God cannot love us any more or any less.  And while we may do or say things that please or displease our Father, we do not need to strive to earn His favor.  We have it!  Yes, God wants us to serve Him, but more than that, He wants us to love Him and spend time with Him.

He also wants us to remember that His faithfulness and provision are dependent on His nature, not ours.  He blesses us according to His integrity and skilfulness.  And when we rest in that, we're sure to find more peace and less striving for acceptance.  God loves us and will always work on our behalf.  There's no doubt about it!