“We are the children of God.” –Romans 8:16
I now pass from the titles which describe the origin of the Christian character to some of those which describe the Christian’s relationships. There are many of these. He stands in various relations to other beings. None can be more important than his relationship to God. These I would first consider. One of these, exceedingly important and precious, is here described.
Children of God! How interesting, how impressive is the thought! How much love it displays on the part of God! “Behold, what manner of love,” John says. How great and inestimable the privilege on our part! What blessings or gifts does a father deny a son, which are within his reach, and are proper for him to receive? What limit is there to the goodness or the wisdom of God, in dealing with his children? Let me think of this blessed title, as belonging to me. Am I a child of God? I became so by his gracious adoption of me, in his Son. He thus of his own grace is pleased to make me one of his family.
1. Then I ought to have the most affectionate spirit of GRATITUDE to God, who has bestowed the privilege and the gift.
Whatever earthly things I may receive, this is a blessing which must always call for my gratitude, and for the expression of my gratitude to God. As a child of God, the prevailing temper of my mind ought to be thankfulness. Rejoice in the Lord always—in everything give thanks. When I do rejoice, let it not be so much in inferior things. Let it be in this highest and best of all gifts. In whatever earthly state I may be, how amazing is the change, from my low and guilty condition, to be called a child of God! As my Father, I should think of him and love him. This makes all his dispensations precious. His ways become dear to me. His rod is exercised with the most tender affection. His smiles and his comforts abound upon me. I may always see his sun—and breathe his air—and partake of his grace—and enjoy his forgiveness—and walk in his presence. How can I ever be unhappy? How can my heart ever be any but a thankful heart?
2. Then I ought to exercise the most entire CONFIDENCE in my heavenly Father.
He cannot do me any wrong. He must bless me always. All things must work together for good, to those whom he loves and calls. If he has adopted me into his family, he will surely bless me, and I ought therefore ever to trust in him. I cannot understand all his plans. How could I? His ways are not as my ways. They are far above—out of my sight. But his purposes I thoroughly know. The thoughts which he thinks concerns me are only good. In this I must have entire trust. If I walk in darkness, and have no light, I must still stay upon my God. It becomes the spirit of a child to have confidence in a father. What father can be so worthy of confidence as he? He will hold me by my right hand. He will lead me safely through the waters. He will bring me to his house in peace. He will not forsake me. Let me never withdraw from him my entire and affectionate trust. He has made me his child. He will enable me to know him and prove him as a Father, in all his discipline with me.
3. Then I ought to cultivate the most complete SUBMISSION to his will.
I am not yielding to a Ruler who is mighty merely, but to a Father who is tender. I do not submit to the voice of mere authority, but to the expressions and demands of the most unexampled love. Does he rule in everything? Is he everywhere mighty and faithful? Let me in everything entirely and immediately submit. Oh, I would have little choice—little desire to choose. I would allow him to govern in all things concerning me. How happy shall I be when every contentious spirit is subdued, and my whole heart is brought into perfect subjection to him! This is heaven. This will be heaven for me forever. This would be heaven even here. Let me earnestly strive to gain it; and in the spirit of complete submission, really have my heaven begun below.
4. Then I ought to be earnestly and constantly careful to HONOR my Father’s name.
It is a most serious matter to stand in such a relation to the Great God of heaven and earth. What reverence becomes me! What holiness! What blamelessness! What usefulness! What likeness to his image! I should watch for this, and seek for it continually. He has prepared the way. He has revealed the character he loves. His Spirit is ready to bestow it. He will lead, and help, and bless me. Oh let me not be lacking in efforts to do his will.
The world will judge of him by me. What I am, will be in their view the standard of what he does, and of what he requires. Ah, if they should reject him for my sake, what could I say? If his name shall be blasphemed through my carelessness or neglect, how can I stand before him? It may be so. It is very likely to be so. Then let me strive to glorify and honor him, in every walk of life, by the utmost fidelity to his service.
5. As a child of God, these attributes ought always to be found in me—Gratitude, Confidence, Submission, Holiness.
These are the marks of his children. They especially suit me. I desire to obtain and exhibit them. I would cultivate a filial spirit. I would walk as a child of God. Soon my Father will call his children home. Their wanderings will all be finished. Their work will be all completed. Their trials all accomplished. Let me be ready for that hour, and happy when that hour shall arrive. This is my privilege. I will make it my purpose and my constant effort.
What transport then shall fill my heart, When you my worthless name shall own;
When I shall see you as you art,
And know as I myself am known!
From sin, and fear, and sorrow free,
My soul shall find its rest in Thee.
This comes from Stephen Tyng’s devotional classic Christian Titles, which would serve you well every day for seven weeks. We can’t recommend this one enough!