A while back I wrote about how I think God sees us. You can link to that here if you want. The gist was that God sees us as His children and loves our “performances” because He loves us. His love is not dependent on my talent or perfection.

This post is inspired by the story of Solomon as he built and dedicated his temple to God. The story is found in 1 Kings 8 and 2 Chronicles 5-7. As I read the story the other day I thought about how proud Solomon and all of the people were of this ornate structure. After worshiping with a tent, a temporary dwelling for so long, it must have seemed like they had arrived. They rejoiced greatly as they moved the ark of the covenant and the other furnishings from the tabernacle into the temple. Then, in what must have been an awesome experience, the glory of God filled the temple to the extent that the priests couldn’t do their work.

The way it is described reminded me of the language that might be used if, for example, I were able to build a new house for my parents and then took them to show it to them for the first time. Moving their things in and letting them look around I would feel the kind of pride and excitement that the Israelites must have felt. But for some reason I realized that this is the wrong interpretation of the story. Solomon didn’t build something for God that He didn’t have or needed. It isn’t as if God were impressed with the temple and loved Solomon and the Israelites for making it for Him. Rather, I think it is similar to my child bringing home something she made at school or giving me a homemade gift. It may not be of the highest quality or even be something that I need, but it is meaningful to me because of the thought and effort that went into it. I will put it on the refrigerator and cherish it, but for totally different reasons.

I think that we do the same today. We do things for God and expect Him to be impressed with us. We stand back and look at our creation as if we have filled some need that God has. Instead, what would it be like if we continued to give to God as we have before but recognize that these gifts are meaningful, not because they make God love us but because He already does. I think that we would serve more and serve more joyfully. I think we wouldn’t expect some reward from God or others for our work. And, I think that we would not become burned out or tired of serving, because we would delight in pleasing God and not worry so much about others or about ourselves.

I don’t know exactly how to do this. I guess that I have to identify the times in my life that I begin to serve God for the wrong reasons – hoping to gain His approval rather than express my love. I have to constantly worship God and realize that He is so great that He needs nothing from me, but delights in my expressions of love to Him. I also need to be reminded regularly that God loves me as I am, faults and all. Then, maybe I’ll start to get it.