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June 29, 1996

The Character of God

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The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. PSALM 145:8
Is there a God, and if so, what is He like? This question is in the heart of seekers around the world, regardless of their ages, backgrounds, or nationalities. It is a central question in life, one that is of ultimate importance because of its effect on who we are and what we do.
If God does not exist, then we are random accidents, living on a meaningless globe, hurtling through a vast empty universe toward nothingness. We should pursue our own interests and pleasures. Our work is without meaning unless it satisfies us. Whatever we desire we should obtain by any means necessary. We are beyond the law because the very idea of law is ridiculous. Ethical considerations are thrown out the window. The only rule is to take care of yourself and get all you can.
Another option is that God does exist, but He is a ruthless and angry tyrant Who is hard to please. In this case, we had better work especially hard to garner His approval. Everything we do must be perfect or we are taking steps backward in His kingdom. Life is short and there is much to accomplish if we are going to be found worthy.
Thankfully, there is a third option, one that comes from God Himself. When Moses was on Mount Sinai, he asked to see God. The Lord denied his request because Moses would have died, but He did allow His glory to pass in front of Moses. While the Lord passed by Moses, He uttered these words: “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). God described the essential nature of Himself: gracious, compassionate, patient, and loving.
Fortunately, the third picture is the only true and accurate one. As a result, our work is a response to God’s grace given to us in the form of His Son, Jesus. It means that He is not giving up on us despite our shortcomings and failures. It means that He is concerned about the things that concern us. And finally, it means that His response to you today and every day comes from a heart that is love itself. Not a bad picture at all.

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