God’s Character; March 24, 2018

Hosea 11:9 I will not carry out my fierce anger,
nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim.
For I am God, and not man—
the Holy One among you.
I will not come in wrath.[

This verse wasn’t underlined in my Bible before, but it really struck me just now. God can be so gracious and forgiving precisely because He is God. People simply aren’t that way, apart from His presence in them. When man acts strictly as man, we have revenge and cruelty and a whole host of mess. When God instituted the famous, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” rule, (Exodus 21:24 and others) it wasn’t to be sure those punishments were meted out, but to limit punishments to no more than the original crime. That wasn’t cruel, it was kind! Left to himself, man does things like the Nazis killing 10 prisoners in retribution for one escaping. This verse is a declaration of God’s character as being higher and better than that of man, much as He told Isaiah (Isaiah 55:9) The problem today, however, is that we have come to take God’s grace and mercy for granted. Bonhoeffer called such thinking “cheap grace.” As we are about to enter Passion Week it is entirely appropriate to remember just how costly that grace really is. The song, Here I am to Worship has a line, “I’ll never know how much it cost, to take my sins upon that cross.” That is very true, and is a meditation more than worthy of our time and attention.

I am grateful the Lord has revealed to me, to a degree at least, how much better He has treated me than I deserved. I still have a persistent tendency to take His grace for granted, but it’s much less than it has been. Accordingly, I need to let His character operate in me and forgive as I have been forgiven. I live in a society where revenge has traditionally been highly valued, and forgiveness hardly understood. That can make things very difficult at times. I am to be faithful not to pay back on my own, but to leave things in God’s hands. I am to express God’s love and grace in words and action, regardless of what is said or done to me. I can’t be that way on my own! That means I’ve got to focus on and be submitted to my Lord, “who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Only then will I be effective in drawing people to repentance and faith for their salvation.

Father, the bar is very high, but by Your grace and strength I’ll get over it. Thank You that I don’t have to rely on my own strength and wisdom! Help me submit fully to You at all times so that Your Spirit may flow through me unhindered, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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