Do more good than bad, don’t make him angry, become a better person before you approach him.
That’s how many people view God, and most of us have at some point in our lives. And what is there to be grateful about a God you always have to appease?
Prominent Welsh pastor of the 20th century, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, once asked his congregation what they would do if while they were away from home one day, a friend who as at the home visiting paid an overdue bill for them. If it were a small bill, unpaid postage on a letter, you’d pat them on the back and say “thanks.”
But if the IRS had finally caught up to you after ten years of unpaid taxes and had come to take you to jail, and your friend paid off your entire debt, you would not pat them on the back and say, “thanks.” You would fall at their feet and say “Command me!”
And this is actually a lot like what it means to follow Jesus. Following Jesus is not about following rules and doing all the right things to make God happy.
The reality is, if you do anything because you are told to, you are forced, or simply because you think it is the right thing to do, you’ll eventually become frustrated and want to quit.
And not surprisingly, this is what happens to many people who try be religious. They think if they do the right things their life will improve. But when things don’t go as they planned, they get mad at God for not holding up his end of the deal.
But that’s not what it means to follow Jesus.
In the illustration above, if the police were coming to take you to jail and ruin your life as you know it, and someone comes in a saves you, you would want to do whatever you could to express your gratitude for what they had done.
Not to pay them back, you couldn’t, but to show them how thankful you are.
This is what it means to follow Jesus.
We don’t do it to try and earn something. We don’t do it because we are trying to pay Jesus back (we can’t), we do it out of gratitude for what he has done for us.
When you do something because you want to do it and not because you are told, you’re going to keep doing it. Following Jesus isn’t easy, but when we remember what he has done for us, our gratitude leads us to keep doing it.