Even though he has heard hundreds of sermons over his life time, writer Philip Yancey recalls very few. One he remembers comes from Ian Pitt-Watson. The sermon had one point – which is probably why he remembered it. The sermon’s point was, “Some things are loved because they are worthy; other things are worthy because they are loved.” Ian went on to describe things that we love because of their worth – gorgeous super models, gifted athletes, brilliant scientists, priceless works of art. Then he mentioned something that seemed to have little worth but was greatly loved regardless. It was a rag doll owned and loved by his young daughter, Rosemary. Rosemary could not bear to live life without her rag doll. When the Pitt-Watson’s relocated across the ocean to Scotland, each family member selected an item to take with them on the plane. Rosemary took her rag-doll. Yet, on that flight, the doll was misplaced and Rosemary was in a panic. So distraught was Rosemary that the family considered postponing the flight as they looked for the doll. At last the doll was found calming Rosemary from her panic state. Yancey said that Ian went on to make the application of how God’s love is not based on our worth. His love is not based on how we do in life and what we do. God’s love instead comes without reason. It simply comes because God loves. In particular, God so loved the world. In the phrase “some things are loved because they are worthy and some things are worthy because they are loved.”, we fit in the last part. We are worthy because we are loved.
“This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” (1 John 3:19–20) Sometimes our hearts rightfully condemn us. We’re not perfect and do things we’re ashamed of and know are not the way a child of God should live. But if we’re trusting our life to Jesus, our faith in Christ gives us the ‘right’ to call ourselves ‘children of God’ (John 1:12). Thus whenever our hearts condemn us, we might say to our condemning heart – “Yes, I fail and need forgiveness everyday. But heart, you can’t condemn me because Jesus made me God’s child and I’m loved not because I am worthy but am worthy because I’m loved.”
I like what one Jewish Rabbi advised his students. He said, “A person should carry two stones in his pocket. On one should be inscribed: ‘I am nothing but dust and ashes.’ On the other stone, ‘For my sake was the world created.’ And he should use each stone as he sees fit.” To keep ourselves from selfish pride there are times to pull out the stone – ‘I’m nothing but dust and ashes.’ But there are other times when the ‘heart condemns us’ when we must pull out the stone that says, ‘For my sake the world was created.’ God loves me not because I am worthy, but I am worthy because I am loved. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1) Pastor Mark