For God does not show favoritism. – Romans 2:11
Unless you’re a mom of an only child you probably have at least one kid who thinks they’re not loved as much as another. This skewed mindset was apparent in our oldest son, Sean, who flat out told me when he was a teenager, “You love Ryan more than me.”
Shocked, I froze as Sean shared his feelings in front of Ryan at the breakfast bar. “No, I don’t, Sean,” I said sadly.
“Yeah, you kinda do, Mom,” Ryan piped in.
I was dumb-founded and very tempted to display a juvenile eye-roll. Instead I asked, “You both believe my love for you is at different levels?”
“Yeah. It’s obvious,” Sean demanded, “You’ve always favored Ryan.”
Sad-faced, I sighed, “You think, because Ryan demanded more of my time growing up with his physical ailments, strong-will and learning disability, that I love him more? Really? You are both different people, but that doesn’t mean that I love one more than the other,” I said, convincingly, but they weren’t convinced.
The truth is I can see now why Sean believed I loved Ryan more than him. Sean was an obedient child and never really needed much discipline or help with school work. When Sean was young, I spent hours reading to him, but when he learned to read, he seemed to prefer doing it alone. He read faster silently than I could out loud and he never wanted to stop at just one chapter. But whenever I read to Ryan, Sean would meander over to the couch and listen to the story. There were also those times in the middle of the night when Ryan was sick. His lactose intolerance or over-stimulation that day brought him, once again, to the bathroom floor. I would lay down with him and read. He would say things like, “I love you, mommy,” and Sean could probably hear it all from his closed bedroom door. But Sean doesn’t know that I would have done the same for him if he were sick, but he wasn’t. He didn’t need help with his homework. He didn’t require the same amount of discipline (or even obvious grace) that Ryan got. Then there was high school and sports. Sean liked music but sports consumed their free time. We put a priority on athletics, which Ryan excelled in, and Sean’s desire to play guitar was postponed. He perceived our obliviousness, or lack of understanding, as rejection. Sad, but true.
I have since apologized for not meeting Sean’s emotional needs when he was a child. I’m sure there were many times when he felt less than and left out, but it wasn’t intentional. Still, it bothered me that he questioned my love for him. I know I have a room to grow as a mother, but hearing that I have a favorite is something that truly breaks my heart.
God’s great love as a parent
Unquestionably, though, I feel the same way when I think of God’s love. Do I honestly believe God loves me as much as He loves all of His children? Wouldn’t Billy Graham be a bit more cherished than me? Or perhaps His favorite is the one He seems to have lavished more grace upon. You know, the person who blew it bigtime and then turned back to Him and is on fire?
Or maybe He loves the most talented speaker or writer more than me? I’m certainly not His true Beloved, am I?
It’s true. In my heart I believe God has favorites, and I think it offends Him too. I am crazy about BOTH Sean, who is compassionate, bright, thoughtful, kind and musical, AND Ryan, who is empathetic, strong-willed, loving and athletic, simply because they are my kids. In the same way, God is crazy about all His children, too. But, like Sean, sometimes I don’t believe it.
God does not have favorites
Regardless of how we “feel,” God demonstrated His love for us—”while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8. None of us deserve God’s love. His love envelopes all of His children because God is love. We don’t have to fear rejection or fear of not measuring up because we “have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but [we] have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15.
Like a child who bends a water hose before drinking out of it, we can restrict the flow of God’s love in our lives. When we don’t “feel” His love than the kink in the hose is on the receiving end. But God’s love flows toward us like a gushing waterfall. Trusting His love is more than unkinking a garden hose. Trusting His abundant love is like standing under a waterfall and letting it drench you to your bones. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” 1 John 3:1. This is a monumental truth.
And, you know what? The enemy wants nothing more than to convince us that the waterfall is not for us. Many of God’s children stand around the kitchen island and tell Him, “You love them more than me.” Like Eve, many believe God is holding out on them. They believe because life is not going their way that God has forgotten them, or like Martha in Luke 10:40, we believe that Jesus just doesn’t care, and He obviously loves Mary more.
Jesus was most likely grieved when Martha, who was so close to the waterfall of His love, refused to get wet. And can you imagine how painful it is for Him to know that Judas who witnessed His miracles and experienced His kindness and love firsthand ended up betraying Him as if God isn’t worthy of any reciprocated love and honor?
Oh, Lord, how I pray that we would see how good You are and experience that bone-drenching love You have for us, regardless of our talents, personality, looks or status. There is plenty of room for all of us to be soaked. So, let’s join our siblings and get water-logged by God’s love.