“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.” Exodus 34:6-7 (NIV)
There’s little consolation in knowing God is your Creator unless you know what He’s like. A Creator could be miserable, unreasonable, unloving, and downright hateful. Likewise, there is little consolation in knowing God is your Ruler, but great consolation in knowing that God is your Savior: holy, happy, kind, and full of grace.
J. I. Packer writes, “Nothing can alter the character of God. In the course of a human life, tastes and outlook and temper may change radically: a kind, equable man may turn bitter and crotchety; a man of good-will may grow cynical and callous. But nothing of this sort happens to the Creator. He never becomes less truthful, or merciful, or just, or good, than He used to be."
Think of it this way: if your grumpy neighbor asks, “What are you up to?” you’ll see it as a suspicious, condemning question. But if your cheerful neighbor asks the same thing, you’ll smile and talk about your plans. We interpret people’s words according to how we perceive their character and outlook. So it is with our view of God.
Given most people’s opinion of God, no wonder they read the Bible negatively, selectively focusing on His anger and judgment while missing His mercy, grace, and happiness. God seems restrictive and condemning because they believe He’s against us and our happiness.
The same Scriptures, when read by those who see God as loving and happy, emphatically show that He has our best interests at heart. For them, the Bible becomes a warm, living document instead of a set of harsh, arbitrary rules. If we believe that “God is for us” (Romans 8:31), then even when Scripture exposes our sin, we still trust Him, because He desires to address our sin with His forgiving and empowering grace.
Parts of this article were excerpted from Randy's devotional Beautiful and Scandalous, which offers daily meditations, Scriptures, and inspirational quotes that will enable you to grasp more fully the grace God has lavished on us.