I attended a ministry workshop years ago with my wife. We were there to learn about how to prevent burnout when working in full time ministry. The speaker made a comment in one of his teaching sessions that really floored me. He said, "God is extremely inefficient in His character." I didn't really know how to react to such a statement. I leaned in, blinked my eyes a few times to remove any mental cobwebs, and waited to hear what he might say next to clarify this perplexing comment.
He went on to say that God, if He were efficient, would carefully measure everything He did. Why place a million flowers on a field in South America that no person may ever see? Why fill the sky with billions of stars in galaxies we will never know about? Why create thousands of sea creatures when just a few dozen would have gotten the point across about His creativity? If a business analyst in the 21st century were to evaluate "God's business" he would have to conclude that the operation is running at a loss. There is too much extravagance. God does not operate "efficiently."
As I pondered this idea, a powerful truth began to sink in - and I rejoiced at the inefficiency of God. What if God were efficient in His dealings with me, a stubborn, selfish child? What hope would I have if He were not one who poured out His love, lavished His mercy, and filled me to overflowing with His grace? The extravagance of God has been offered to me. I am, therefore, thankful for the inefficiency of God.
The longer I thought about this truth the more I was convicted of how I treat other people. I became painfully aware that I often interact with others in ways that attempt to measure everything, a way that is "efficient." I attempt to keep everything "even" between me and others. They pay me a compliment, I return the compliment. I borrow something, I lend something. Measure, measure, measure.
My heart grew sad as I thought of how this must break God's heart to see His children, who have been given the keys to the doorway of heaven, selfishly mete out the bare minimum of blessing on those around them. Jesus spoke of such inconsistency when he shared the parable of the unmerciful servant. (Matt. 18:23-30)
He said, "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents (millions) was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii (pennies). He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.
"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt."
God refuses to "measure out" His goodness, grace, mercy, and love toward us. He refuses to contain Himself when it comes to showering peace, purity, and promise. He gives and gives and gives. He is the "inefficient" God, whose purposes far exceed any measurement. You see, God is interested in our hearts. He wants a relationship with us. You don't measure relationship. You cannot measure love. This is the heart of God: mercy and compassion for wretched sinners like you and me.
I have been challenged by this truth. I must wake up each day and take an honest look in the mirror and ask myself if I am willing to reflect the heart of God today. It can be a tough question when the busyness and trappings of this world compete for my attention. I am tempted to "measure" my kindnesses or generosity, feeling such sacrifices carry with them an added burden. But what I am learning is that "[his] yoke is easy and [his] burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30) When I reflect the heart of God, I carry no burden because God provides immeasurably beyond what I could even ask or imagine.
Rejoice with me for the inefficiency of God...and ask Him to be reflected in you today.
What's So Amazing About Grace?
by Philip Yancey
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