“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Total Goodness of God

(This is a follow-on to the previous post entitled, My favorite subjectThe generosity of God. Please read first.)

“Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God.” Rom. 11:22.

I love to think of God’s goodness, His wonderful ever-giving nature. He truly defines the word, generosity. He doesn’t begrudgingly give; it is His glory to pour blessing and understanding and forgiveness upon us.

Yet He has another aspect of His personality. He can’t allow for anything less than perfection. While it is His glory to forgive, it is also His glory to be perfect, and He leads the way, desiring all His children to follow suit, because He knows this is best for them and for the health of His kingdom. In the Navy, I heard the phrase used, “Good order and discipline.” That represented the best the military could expect from its sailors—people taking lawful orders and passing them down to their subordinates, working together like a well oiled machine; people who have trained their soul to be willing to give up their life for the survival of the crew, or to give up their life for the achievement of the ship’s mission—freedom for the world.

Good order and discipline portrays a beauty of a different kind than does the creativity and expression of an artist, or the benevolence of a pastor to his church flock. Discipline can be hard, even harsh, at times. It is firm and zealously ready to strike fear. But it is good, and it is beautiful. And we see it in God’s attributes. Jesus was not only the Lamb of God that would sacrifice Himself to save us, but He was also the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who would rule all nations with a rod of iron. We naturally recoil from that Lion part of Him. As His little children, our love and trust for Him start getting shaky. He knows this and does His best not to scare His children away. But He can’t help what He is. “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” Jn. 5:17. Jesus was saying, “My Father works like this, and I must do just like My Father.” Or if you prefer, “My Daddy works like this....”Jesus was tough, no doubt. He is as tough as His Father, and we have the privilege of having God display His royalty and aweful majesty toward the devil, in our behalf, right before us. But He is also gentle, for He never administers justice without mercy equally dominating His every word and act of discipline. “The Lord is a man of war,” but “Thy gentleness hath made me great.” Ex. 15:3; Ps. 18:35.

In Gods severity, we see His jealous love. We see His deepest desire for the welfare of His children. We see the other side of His personality, beside His mercy. He is not just one dimensional; He has a depth of character that we will rejoice to study for endless ages. We can trust His discipline.

That fullness of character revealed itself on the cross, there hammering the final blow to the nail in Satan’s coffin, while simultaneously falling under the blows of the people He came to save. And it had to be that way to let us see ourselves for what we are, and to let us see Him for what He is and what His Father's standard is. It also showed us how far He is willing to go to reclaim our hearts; Jesus would do what our condition demanded Him to endure. The cross of Christ, also, will be our study through endless ages.

Jesus did not suppress one word of truth, but He uttered it always in love. He exercised the greatest tact and thoughtful, kind attention in His intercourse with the people. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul. He did not sensure human weakness. He spoke the truth, but always in love. He denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity; but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes.” Steps to Christ, p.12. A beautiful description of a heart settled on love.

If we fear to look upon His readiness to deal justice and discipline, and opt to behold His mercy and friendliness only, we end up the big losers. We lose the ability to carry the cross; we become marshmallow Christians, spiritual Pillsbury Doughboys; our religion becomes hollow and tasteless, and thus we misrepresent His character to the world. We must view both, His generous and abundantly merciful nature, and His forthcoming trait to be disciplinary, as difficult as that may be to do. If we choose to accept Him as our Savior, we must take all of Him. We must take Him in the form He has revealed Himself. If we want Him as a merciful God only, we make Him a peer—our equal. He becomes our graven image, because we have carved Him into what we want Him to be; then we can deal with Him because we have the controls. But it’s a dead worship we give to Him. To accept Him with all that He is, is to lose the controls on Him and to allow His Spirit to reveal Him to us fully, and that will result in an electrifying worship of Him; it will wake up the lifeless soul! That will develop true trust in Him. If we will accept Him as He has revealed Himself, as the God in both New and Old Testaments, and wrestle with His law-making, discipline, and justice attribute, we will understand Him to be much greater than our peer. He will become our parent; and there is not a deeper love and kinship than to those who gave us life and protected us, and who sacrificed to prepare us to survive life. Jesus, our Father-FriendHis mercy will endure any misbehavior or rebellion that His children devise, and His generosity toward them is a well of water, springing up forever. He always has been, and always will be. We can trust a person like that.

And if we’ve seen Jesus, we’ve seen His majesty, The Father.

“Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Is. 9:6.


Blogger Trailady said...

Good commentary, David! I especially liked the part about how Jesus was always tactful and kind, never rude. How patient was He!

In my experience, I find lots of people who have NO problem accepting the justice of God. They want a vengeant Redeemer bent on pouring out hellfire on lowlifes and upon whomever does not agree with thier particular brand of Christianity. (You can find people cut of this cloth in just about any denomination) I myself viewed God as the great and terrible equalizer and record keeper. So, the mercy aspect of His character was very much missing from most of my religious experience. I'm just now beginning to come to terms with the softer side of God. It's a marvelous thing to see a bigger picture! What a burden of fear has been lifted!!

PS. Interestingly enough, post 1888 EGW said "If we must choose between presenting the justice or the mercy of God, always err on the side of mercy."

Bless you! :o)

4/18/2006 11:14 AM  
Blogger Raheel Lakhani said...

Beautiful. Yes patience and forgiveness is very important. Patience is tough but worth it. Forgiveness is a blessing to your ownself because complaining and hatred just ruins you and your mental peace. Thanks for visiting my blog :)

4/18/2006 12:04 PM  

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