Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.(NIV)Solomon loved the Lord, except that he sacrificed in unauthorized places. Solomon loved the Lord, except that he made alliances with Egypt. Solomon loved the Lord, except that he spent longer constructing his palace than the temple. Solomon loved the Lord, except that he had hundreds of concubines.
I'm not bashing Solomon. My heart is exactly the same (minus the great wisdom and wealth): I love the Lord, except that I say unkind words. I love the Lord, except that I spend more time on the computer or watching TV than with Him. I love the Lord, except that I don't love His children the way He has expressly commanded me.
My first thought about this conflict was to figure out how I can remove the "except that" from my life. What do I need to do so that the statement can simply be, "Edna loved the Lord." What plan can I make? Whose accountability do I need? What consequence for messing up? Then I heard the whisper of the Spirit reminding me that there will always be an "except that". I am broken. Solomon was broken. All of us since Adam and Eve are broken. We can't love the Lord without exception in our own strength because our own strength cannot heal our brokenness.
Once again I am brought back to the cross and to the wonder and mercy of Jesus. He died for the "except that's" in my life. Seen through His redemption, I do love the Lord. Period. But not because of me, because of His great mercy. There is no "except that" in John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.