Sweet and Sour

Yahweh appeared of old to me, saying, 'Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness.' Jeremiah 31:3 WEB.

There is an old saying that you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar. Yet, when I was growing up in the Bible Belt, most of the things I heard about God were seasoned with vinegar. As in, "God loves you, but He will kill you if you don't do what I said." I was always worried about being struck by lightning.

Over the years, I've learned that God isn't like that at all. Yet, people will create their own version of god, then expect you to bow to the god they made. Nebuchadnezzar did this very thing in Daniel 3:1 with his image of gold. The only way to recognize the difference is to know the word of God.

While Jesus was ministering on the earth, the Pharisees condemned Him for not teaching His disciples to follow their traditions. Some of His disciples didn't wash their hands up to the elbow seven times before eating (Mark 7:1). Now, this was just a man-made tradition, but it had been passed down through the generations. It was taught alongside the word of God as if it was the word of God. The problem was that it wasn't.

In my own life, it has taken years to weed through that baggage. I still find pieces that don't belong now. It is easy for us to believe the lie that God is mean or that He is mad at us for some reason. It is much more difficult to believe that He truly loves us, that we are forgiven, that we can now come boldly before Him. Yet, these are the truths that Scripture teaches.

The first time I read the Bible cover to cover, I was so amazed by what wasn't in there, and at times, by what was. I found it liberating. We have a choice: To believe what someone told us is in the Bible or look for ourselves and see what is actually written in there.

Some things in there are these: God loves us with everlasting love, and it is not a conditional love that changes based on your behavior. He doesn't love you more when you think you are good or less when you feel you are bad. The Lord draws us with His loving kindness to get us to turn to Him. He loves us first. When you fall, get up, He still loves you. When you come to know the Lord, you will only find sweetness, compassion, and His unconditional love. Throw out the vinegar.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your unconditional love. Please help me filter out man's traditions and focus on actually knowing You and Your word. Teach me the things that I need to know. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen!

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