Charles Dickens’s novel Great Expectations tells the story of Pip, an orphan who comes into an inheritance later in life and begins to despise Joe, the poor blacksmith who had raised Pip as his own son. When Pip falls ill and Joe nurses him back to health, Pip realizes with terrible remorse how he had wrongly rejected the man who had always loved him. “’Oh, Joe, you break
my heart! Look angry at me, Joe,” Pip insisted. “Strike me, Joe. Tell me of my ingratitude. Don’t be so good to me!’
Joe’s kindness brought Pip to repentance. In the same way, God’s kindness toward us leads us to repentance. His love, free and without condition, remakes our idolatrous hearts. Notice that today’s reading begins with the phrase, “in response to these things.” Paul is calling our attention to the divine promises catalogued in Romans 8—the good gifts God gives to men and women, though they are undeserving: acquittal (v. 1), adoption (v. 15), eternal inheritance (v. 17), the Spirit’s intercession on their behalf (vv. 26, 27), God’s good providence (v. 28), and eternal security (vv. 29, 30). And to this vast list of God’s kindnesses, Paul adds another: His steadfast, unfailing, forgiving love.
God is for us! It’s as if we can picture ourselves as athletic competitors. God is rooting for us, cheering us on! We know this because He has accepted the ultimate sacrifice of His Son. Jesus has made it possible for us to be in relationship with God, a foretaste of our full communion with Him in the new heaven and new earth.
Yesterday, we read that God is making us healthy trees that produce healthy desires. Today’s passage reminds us of the nourishment we need to grow into that health: we must drink long of the love of God. The assurance of His affection for us secures our affections for Him.