“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?'” (John 21:15, NIV)
(This is a complex passage of scripture because its few words carry a number of number of applications. Today, we look at a third possible application.)
Today’s application returns to Peter’s loud and public boast that he would never, never, ever, ever desert Jesus; that he would “lay down his life” for Jesus. (See John 13:36-38)
This was Peter’s ambition, and it was a noble one. In the verses that follow John 21:15, Peter’s ambition to love Jesus without condition is affirmed, and he is told that, yes, he will “lay down his life” for his Lord.
God is faithful to give us the desires of our heart, but He does not just give us what we desire; He first prepares us to both receive and to employ the gift.
We ask God for patience. It is a noble request (and most of us would certainly do well to be more patient). But do we despise the process that leads to patience — which, according to scripture, includes suffering, trouble, and pain? (See Romans 5:3)
We ask God to be made holy. It is a noble request (and most of us would certainly do well to be more holy — which is to say, more like God and less like our dysfunctional world). But do we despise the process that leads to holiness? Do we gripe about the silence, and curse the solitude that is necessary to shape us into a woman or man who — like God — cannot be bossed; and cannot be bought?
As a child of God, our heavenly Father is delighted to give us the gifts that reflect the desires of our heart. Like the wise father who gives the keys to the family car to his child only after the child is properly educated, trained, and licensed to operate the vehicle; our heavenly Father first makes us ready for the gifts we desire. – Luther