There is a formula in some passages of the Bible. Something terrible, grave, sad, or otherwise unfavorable state is mentioned. Then, the words “but God” come into focus as we continue reading. These words usher in a solution, reprieve, or change to what was once unbearable. We can read this example from the Psalms, “My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (73:26). The psalmist highlights the frailty of the human condition in contrast to the resolve that we can have because of who God is.
In Romans, Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (5:8). The circumstances were dire. We, the “helpless” and “ungodly,” were in need of someone to die on our behalf (Rom. 5:6). “One would hardly die for a righteous man,” so we were doomed in our sins (Rom. 5:7). Then, God steps in. He did not demand that we were lovable before He loved us and sacrificed for us. That is how awesome the love of God is. We need to remember “among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us” (Eph. 2:3-4).
His greatness did not end there. If the Christ, the perfect sacrifice, was to only die, we would still be subject to death and not victors through Him (1 Cor. 15:55-57). That is why when Peter preached the gospel on the day of Pentecost he said, “But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (Acts 2:24). They needed to know that this “Man” that “godless men” nailed to the tree out of envy was God’s “predetermined” plan, not theirs (Acts 2:23). We need to know with assurance that Christ has dominion over death to be able to grant us that same victory. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).
As we walk in Christ and live with the confidence of that victory, we should think on these things. “Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts” (1 Thess. 2:4). While this is a slight deviation from the formula, it brings our lives into focus. All that God has done has made it possible for us to be stewards of that message, the gospel. What we speak and what we share isn’t to please men but God. We shouldn’t be afraid of what people will think or say if we share His message. We should be more worried what God thinks if we don’t. “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth” (1 Cor. 3:7).