Two related questions: Does God love some people more than others? Is - Bible Questions and Answers - Prayer Tents

Question

9. Two related questions: Does God love some people more than others? Is God more pleased with Christians who do more for Him? I’ve heard the phrase, “There’s nothing you can do that would make God love you more or less” and that God is deeply pleased with us apart from our works because of what Christ did for us (the latter from lesson 2 of the Gospel-Centered Life by Thune and Walker). To quote the book, “But when we fail to root out identity in what Jesus has done for us, we slip into performance-driven Christianity. We imagine that if we were ‘better Christians,’ God would approve of us more fully.” I have a hard time reconciling that with the fact that we will stand before God in judgment for the lives that we live and either receive reward or a loss of reward (I Cor. 3). Referring to judgment in Jesus’s parables for instance, God seems to be angry at people who did nothing for Him (I.e. the parable of the talents). If I did nothing for Christ with my life, how could God be pleased with me? Wouldn’t He be disappointed in me? Thank you for your ministry!
Asked by: Female, North America, Christian, 19-25 on March 9, 2021 9:23:16 am

Answer

Thanks for asking such great questions. To answer your questions:

Does God love some people more than others?

God is perfect love. He is the definition of love (See 1John 4:7-8), so it is not right to say that He has a greater or lesser degree of love. Instead, those who felt God loved them were always receptive to that love and recognized they did not deserve it. They were grateful and felt at peace with God's love for them (for example, Psalm 23). Those people are scattered throughout the Scriptures and proclaim they were loved by God. So, with that same perfect love of God, it is more about how we receive His love or recognize His great love for us. It also has to do with recognizing that we are unworthy of that love.

Consider it this way: do you believe your mom or dad loves you? If you have a brother or sister, do you think s/he may think s/he is loved more or less than you? Assuming you have loving parents, the amount s/he feels loved probably depends on how much s/he recognizes that love, and it may also have to do with her/his recognition that s/he may not deserve that love. On the other hand, s/he may feel s/he is NOT loved when s/he does not care about that love (or her/his parents) and feel s/he deserve to be loved (self-righteous and self-confident), especially when s/he may feel her/his love is dependent on her/his accomplishments. 

Is God more pleased with Christians who do more for Him?

No. To clarify, what we do is not what matters to God but that we do what we do because we know and love God. In other words, why what we do matters. It is about the question of our faith in God, which in turn leads to action.

Yes, the parables presented in Matthew 25 may seem as if we need to produce something to be accepted by God. However, there is more to those stories.

Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)

The story begins that five of them were foolish and five were wise (v. 2). To the foolish, the master says, "I don't know you." (v. 12).

The foolish people did not have a relationship with God (see this message scattered throughout the book of Proverbs. People who are wise stay close to God who is the Word. They meditate on God's Word because they love God.). The foolish virgins did not know Him and believed that this groom should automatically accept them regardless of their heart, faith, and actions that would occur because of what they believed. They did not really care. In straightforward terms, if they loved the groom, they would have thought about, anticipated, and prepared their best for this moment. The foolish virgins do not show this kind of attitude, showing their heart (their why, or lack of it).

The wise, on the other hand, do something that may seem unloving. The wise did not give oil to the foolish when asked. It shows the heart (the why) of the wise virgins that they were there to be with the groom. The groom was all they needed. Nothing else mattered. They waited and longed for this moment to be with the groom, and they will not endanger this one thing that matters. 

It is for those who love God and recognize their need for God who is accepted. Those who do not know God, do not have their trust in Him or love Him, would hear, "Believe me, I don't know you." (v. 12).

For reference, consider Matthew 5:3 and Mark 2:17. The Gospel is for the people who are not self-reliant but recognize their need for God and trust in Him.

Consider the other two parables in Matthew 25:

Parable of the Three Servants / Talents (Matthew 25:14-30)

Verse 30 says, "Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness."

What was wrong with this servant that he gets this judgment? It is similar to the first parable that he did not know or care about God. Verse 24 shows the heart of that servant: "Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn't plant and gathering crops you didn't cultivate." 

This servant did not know this master at an intimate level, nor did he care much for his master. Here, the servant told his master that he should not expect to gain returns where he did not plant or cultivate. Herein lies the heart of the servant. He felt he needed to harvest the crops and cultivate them so that he can receive success. Unlike the third servant, the other two servants relied on what the master gave and wanted to do their best to give something better to the master. The love, the heart, the faith in these two servants are shown, while the third one did not care for the master. The third servant was rather selfish and self-confident in his own abilities. The proud and self-confident people who do not need or love God will not be accepted, just like the virgins who were proud, self-confident, and did not need or love God.

Final Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46)

Matthew 25:44-46 (NLT) 

44"Then they will reply, `Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?' 45"And he will answer, `I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.' 46"And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life." 

ptents.com/s/Mat25.44-46

This parable also connects the same. Those who love God would have eternal life while those who do not care for Him would not. What does love for God look like? It is love for others. What we do because of our heart for Him matters.

I've heard the phrase, "There's nothing you can do that would make God love you more or less" and that God is deeply pleased with us apart from our works because of what Christ did for us (the latter from lesson 2 of the Gospel-Centered Life by Thune and Walker). To quote the book, "But when we fail to root out identity in what Jesus has done for us, we slip into performance-driven Christianity. We imagine that if we were 'better Christians,' God would approve of us more fully."

I have a hard time reconciling that with the fact that we will stand before God in judgment for the lives that we live and either receive reward or a loss of reward (I Cor. 3). 

I agree.

Let's look at the verses you pointed out:

1Corinthians 3:6-9 (NLT) 

6I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 7It's not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What's important is that God makes the seed grow. 8The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. 9For we are both God's workers. And you are God's field. You are God's building. 

The verses you pointed out show the heart of Paul. He says, "it is not important who does the planting or who does the watering," but that God does the work. Paul is looking for God to provide and bring about the results. Instead of being dependent on himself, as the one doing the planting or watering, Paul depends on God for the results. When servants operate with that heart, they will be awarded for what they do. Again, heart before the action. Results belong to the Lord (Proverbs 16:1, 9, 33). The question is, do we believe this as we take upon our actions.

Referring to judgment in Jesus's parables for instance, God seems to be angry at people who did nothing for Him (i.e. the parable of the talents). 

God was rather angry at the self-righteous, self-confident people who did not care for or find a need for God. 

If I did nothing for Christ with my life, how could God be pleased with me? Wouldn't He be disappointed in me?

Your heart will show what actions you will take over time. Don't focus on your activities, but on your heart. Your actions that follow should begin with your heart. 

Remember, it is a more modern perspective of individualism that says we must keep producing and get better on our own. This leads to the need to take more actions, especially without the why. The Church is a community of people who love God and operate as one body following the Head. I share this for two reasons:

  1. Don't feel that you need to produce anything. Just have the heart for the Lord, and He will direct you to operate with what He has given you. When you do, you will be rewarded. Your heart is what matters, and your heart will direct you toward your actions. That is why the Holy Spirit was given to us to communicate with Him and seek Him for guidance and direction.
  2. God gave us one another, the Church, so that we can learn to love God who is invisible (See 1John 4:20-21, ptents.com/s/1joh4.20-21. Be part of a small group of other believers who love God so that you may be accountable among others who desire to love God despite what we may experience in the world. 

Blessings.



Answered by Dr. Sang Sur





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