Have you ever tried to give someone a compliment, only to find that it has been deflected away. This could be an attempt at false modesty, a genuine mistrust of ‘unnecessary’ flattery, or it could even be a fear of becoming conceited or proud. You will hear things like, “Oh really? Well it was nothing much”, or “Thank you but I must lose some weight”, or “but it wasn’t as good as…..” or even the spiritual one “ It was the Lord, not me”.
The feeling you get when you get that kind of response is quite different to the joy that you feel when your compliment (providing it is genuine) has been gladly received, and the person receiving it has ‘glowed’ with their own joy of being appreciated or commended.
I sometimes think that I can be rather like that with God. I used to feel when I heard a word of encouragement, a prophecy or a scripture, telling me how much the Lord loves me, or that I bring Him joy, that He was really just saying nice things because He has to, or because He wants to make us all feel better. After all, it says in the bible that God ‘so loved the world’ John 3:16, so my thinking was ‘I’m just included in that general feeling of benevolence which God has towards His creation’. It somehow wasn’t personal.
I wasn’t aware that I was not properly receiving God’s love for me, and how that could be grieving the Lord, until in one meeting, as we were singing that beautiful chorus, ‘I love you Lord, and I lift my voice, to worship you, Oh my soul rejoice’. I felt that the Holy Spirit was encouraging me to change the words and sing ‘You love me Lord, and I lift my voice to worship you….’. Well, it just felt wrong, proud, perhaps a bit deluded. The thoughts going through my head were, ‘It couldn’t be God asking me to change the words like that, and would that still be worship? I think not’.
It reminds me of the Shulammite Bride in the Song of Songs. When she is told she is the ‘most beautiful among women’ Song of Songs 1:8, she feels that because she has been out in the fields looking after the sheep, and so she has been darkened by the sun, that she is not very beautiful, and so she tells them not to look at her. Verse 6. Not a good example of how to receive a compliment, and if we take the spiritual interpretation that she represents the ‘Bride of Christ’ – us!!! We could do well to learn from her mistakes.
In this meeting that I was referring to however, the Holy Spirit seemed to be insistent, and so I tried it out!!! I changed the words around – and it was OK. In fact it was more than OK, it was as if my declaration that the Lord loved me not only released faith into my heart – that He really did, but it also felt like I was actually giving the Lord joy because I was believing Him and worshipping Him for the wonder of that truth, that He didn’t just love ‘the world’ but that He loved ‘ME’.
Just as when someone receives my compliment or my expression of affection or appreciation, it draws us closer and seals our friendship, so acknowledging, receiving and revelling in the fact that I am loved by God, draws me closer to Him and enriches our friendship in an unfathomable way.
It says in Zephaniah 3:17 ‘The Lord your God is in your midst……. He will exult over you with joy, He will quiet you in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy’. NASB. I still find it staggering that I bring Jesus ‘joy’, but we were created for His joy, and ‘it was for the joy set before Him’ – that is you and me coming into His family – that He went to the cross. Hebrews 12:2.
So let us give Him even more joy by thanking Him for His love and let us enjoy being loved individually and personally by Him. Because He has paid a great price to show that love to us, let us give Him joy by receiving it very personally as we express our grateful thanks to Him. You may be surprised by how close to Him you will begin to feel, as the truth of His great, and personal and all embracing love seeps ever deeper into your heart.