“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” - A.W. Tozer
What comes to your mind when you think about God? How would you describe Him? If someone asked you what is God like? What would your response be?
More important than your family? Your major? The Dawgs? Your talents and gifts? Your personality? Your career?
Tozer is spot on here. Bob mentioned this quote in one of his talks, and I think it is critical to our walk with God. If how we see God is so important, then we should strive to develop a better understanding of who God is.
What God is has profound implications on who we are, what we value and believe. The problem is because we usually don’t have a good understanding of who God is, naturally, we end up with a view of God that looks a lot like us.
When we don’t have a correct view of God, we end up having a god made in our image rather than us being made in His image
In John Mark Comer’s book God Has a Name, Comer states – “Here’s how you know if you’ve created God in your own image: he agrees with you on everything. He hates all the people you hate. He voted for the person you voted for. If you’re a Republican, so is he. If you’re a Democrat, he is too. If you’re passionate about _____, then God is passionate about _____.”
We want to be able to see God for who He truly is – not who we have created Him to be. So, how can we look through the right lens and see God the way He is meant to be seen? How can we be imitators of Him (Ephesians 5:1) if we do not know what to imitate?
How about by seeing how God describes Himself in Exodus 34:6-7.
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished"
Wow, that is a lot packed into just two verses. So, let’s break it up a bit.
God is a Compassionate and Gracious God
This section is quoted numerous times throughout the bible - Psalm 145:8, Psalm 86:15-16, Psalm 111:4 and Psalm 103 to name a few.
In Psalm 103, David depicts the Lord’s compassion and grace as the kind of a father would have towards his child.
“Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” (Verse 13)
Jesus described The Lord’s compassion and grace in the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (verse 20)
The son had done everything imaginable to break the father's heart but the father’s compassion is unshakable. In this parable the father shows grace towards the son, he was slow to anger and abounding in love. The father celebrated simply because the son had come home. Reminder this is a parable which means this is Jesus’s view of God. We are children of God! This is a primary way we can relate to God - by understanding Him as Father. He is not just a father, He is our Father! God is a perfectly good and loving Father who shows compassion and grace on His children because that is who He is!
Compassion is a feeling word and gracious is an action word. So, God feels and cares about us (compassion) and wants to help, do something about our situation (gracious). The father saw the son from a long way away and ran towards him because he couldn’t help but take action since he was filled with compassion and grace.
God is Slow to Anger Yet Just
He does not get mad easily. In other words, He is patient. He has self-control. Anger is not His initial reaction, compassion and grace are. The wrath of God is mentioned over and over again in the Old Testament. I think there is a reason slow to anger is in between ‘compassion and grace’ and ‘abounding in love and faithfulness.’ God’s anger stems out of His love, compassion, and grace for us. Like when a parent gets upset when their child does something rebellious. When God gets angry in scripture, it is out of a sense of deep love for His people. His anger is a result of loving you.
Nahum 1:3 quotes Exodus by sayings “The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.”
Yes, God is good, and He forgives, however, he is also just and will not leave the guilty unpunished. Being just, means he is fair and always does what is right. There has to be justice for sin and therefore, the guilty will be punished. However, there is grace and forgiveness for those in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:7).
God is Abounding in love and faithfulness
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:7-10)
God is love! He loves you because he loves you! His love is unchanging – never runs out, never fails, and never gives up on you. Since God is love, that means He is patient, He is kind, He does not envy or boast, He is not self-seeking, He is slow to anger, not resentful, He does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth, He always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). This is His character.
The word abounding literally means to be full of, to provide a plentiful quantity. He created this whole universe just to show you His love. The fact that God created this beautiful, magnificent, vast creation and still wants a close relationship with each and every one of us is mind-blowing. How much does God love you? He created an entire universe to show you. Everything was made to reveal God and His love.
Faithfulness is how He shows His love towards us!
“If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13)
His is true and His promises will come to pass. For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so, through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 1:20).
God will fulfill His promises He has made you. Because He is faithful, He is trustworthy and good.
Father, give us your grace to know You as You truly are, so that we may love and praise You as You deserve.
Author | Kyle Pickett