Loving God's Character

Once as Moses led Israel through the wilderness, he asked God for an opportunity to see Him (Exodus 33:18). God explained his request was impossible because if Moses looked on Godís face he would die. Later God said this of Himself in Exodus 34:6: ďThe Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; . . .Ē

This is a significant self-disclosure of Godís character often cited (Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 4:31; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalms 86:15; 103:8; Joel 2:13; Romans 2:4).

Note all that flows from Godís character because He primarily is a compassionate [merciful] God filled with graciousness. Because He is full of mercy and grace, He angers slowly and is filled with patience and truth [absolutely trustworthy, not deceitful].

That is quite in contrast to many peopleís concept of Godís character. They often declare that the primary quality of Godís character is justice. Thus, expressions of Godís mercy and grace are ďout of characterĒ. He is constantly angry, barely holding His anger in check because of Jesusí cross. He is impatient. He prefers condemnation to salvation. While He is truthful, He quickly remembers our flaws and failuresóand cannot wait to punish them!

While there is no desire to diminish our rightful responsibility that makes us accountable for our choices (Romans 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:9, 10), Godís character declares His desire to save rather than condemn (1 Timothy 2:3, 4; 2 Peter 3:9). The good news is this: God wants to save you and will do all in His power to secure your salvation. He is on our side. The cornerstone of His character is composed of grace arising from His mercy. He rejoices in human repentance. He patiently awaits the redirection of our lives. He never lets us down. He keeps His promises.

At some point [hopefully early in our relationship with God], the Christian must stop running from hell and start running to God. The Christian is not driven by judgmentís terror, but by love for God. Rather than fleeing consequences, Godís people are attracted to His character. They find Godís character admirable in every way. They want Godís character to become their character. That is what they prefer!

Thus their goal as Godís people in an evil world is to be a people of compassion whose grace arises from mercy. In their patience they want to anger slowly. In every way they want to be trustworthy and dependable. Why? That is the nature of their Father, and they are honored to show the world their Father in their character (Matthew 5:43-48).

Would you prefer to own a heart or control a body? God prefers to own hearts. God prefers love to terror. Terror breeds resentment. Love breeds loyalty. Those who know God are committed to loveís loyalty. Feel your responsibility, but also feel Godís love!

 

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 19 January 2006

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