If God is sovereign, why didn’t He make everyone love Him from the beginning?

He didn’t because He loves us.

But I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. — Philemon 1:14, ESV

When Paul wrote to Philemon, he wrote to him in the form of an appeal. His reason? Love.

I think it is on this basis of free will that the love of God is built upon. Consider this perspective, if we are given an order or a command to do something, we will be “forced” to do it (verse 14, NIV). If we are commanded to do something, we will react to the command “by compulsion” and not “of our own accord” (verse 14, ESV). Hence, if we are ordered to “love” and are not given the option not to love, then the love we express will not be genuine.

Christ gave us more than a command. He gave us a way out.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” — John 13:34-35, NIV.

When Christ shared this new command, He knew that His disciples are still living in a fallen world torn with choices and earthly temptations. In the sea of options, Christ recognizes our weaknesses and foretold Peter’s denial (John 13:36-38, NIV). Peter had the options laid out before Him. However, he was not strong enough, on his own, to overcome earthly temptations. In his weakness, he succumbed to the pull of sin. He needed God. He needed the strength from God to fulfill the command He has laid out. And Jesus knew that.

Dead to sin

Peter was dead to sin. Without the empowering of the Holy Spirit within Him, Peter (and all other disciples alike) will be prone to failure. No one can stand before the temptation of the evil one. No one can stand above the choices before them and make a fair and conscious judgment. We are prone to failure. Earthly desires lure us away and many times, we are bounded by the restrictions of our mind. We are unable to not sin.

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. — Romans 7:18, NIV.

Paul knew this struggle. Paul knew the sinful nature within him. Paul was torn inwardly. He had all his chess pieces laid out before him. However, he wasn’t able to make a conscious decision to do what he knew was right. Peter wanted to follow Christ. But at the spur of the moment, he wasn’t able to carry out what He knew was good. He denied Christ.

Empowered to make a conscious decision to love God in spirit and in truth.

I think it is freedom of choice that Christ’s sacrificial love brings to us. When Christ breaks the bondage of sin and death (ref: Romans 6:1-14, NIV), we are once again empowered to make a right and conscious decisions. “Sin will have no dominion over us” (Romans 6:14, ESV). We are freed to make a conscious decision to do what is good. And when we examine the pieces of the puzzle laid out before us, we will be strengthened to choose what is good and right so that the goodness that we’ve chosen is “of our own accord” (Philemon 1:14, ESV). The same goes for our worship to God. Our worship will no longer be a done out of compulsion or out of ignorance. Rather, our we will be able to make the conscious decision to worship “in spirit and truth”. And this is the worship that “the Father is seeking” (John 4:23, NIV).

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