Sunday, March 24, 2013

Two Words to Describe God

If you had to choose 2 words that you believe best describe God, what would they be? 

Think about it...

I believe the two words that most accurately describes our God are truth and grace.  In fact, these are the two words He most used to describe Himself in the Scriptures.  From Genesis to Revelation these two concepts were used to describe God's character, Jesus' way of life, and our expected conduct:

When Moses said to God, "show me your glorious presence," God agreed to reveal himself and passed in front of Moses, calling out:

"Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love (GRACE) and faithfulness (TRUTH).  I lavish unfailing love (GRACE) to a thousand generations.  I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.  But I do not excuse the guilty (TRUTH). I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected--even children in the third and fourth generations." Exodus 34:6-7

Grace and Truth is often translated in Scripture as unfailing love and faithfulness.  Here are the definition of the terms:

GRACE: (charis 147 times / hesed: 248 times)
  1. That which offers joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech 
  2. Good will, loving-kindness, favor.  The merciful kindness of God
  3. Unfailing love, compassion, mercy, kindness, affection 
TRUTH: (aletheia: 99 times / emeth: 127 times)
  1. What is true in any matter under consideration (reality) 
  2. That candor of mind which is free from affection, pretense, simulation, falsehood, deceit 
  3. Firmness, faithfulness, reliability, stability, sureness, steadfastness 
"So the Word (Jesus) became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father... For the law was given through Moses, but God's unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ." John 1:14-17 (NLT)

In my opinion, one of the hardest things in life is to have BOTH of these qualities in us.  James Ryle, a Christian author says, "truth without love equals harshness and love without truth is compromise".  It's easier to have just GRACE - accept everything, regardless of whether or not it is true.  It's easier also to just exercise TRUTH and not worry about showing compassion and mercy to others.  

You might have seen the extremes.  The "Bible-thumpers" - people who in the name if "truth" show no mercy or love or grace toward others.  They hold up signs of condemnation toward the world.

Or maybe you've seen the other extreme.  The "everything is ok" people who accept everything and neglect truth.  They say whatever you do, say, or choose is ok.  There is no absolute truth.  Everything goes...

But try combining the two.  That's what Jesus did.  He was always gracious. Always merciful.  Always kind.  Always full of unfailing love and compassion.  Always forgiving.  BUT He was also always faithful.  Always truthful.  Always firm and steady.  Always reliable.  He forgives, but also punished wrongdoing.  He shows grace, but never compromises truth.  

Psalm 108:4 “For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” 100% of both.

When truth and grace are combined people are drawn to God and there is transformation.  With that in mind, here are some practical observations in regards to helping those who are hurting.
  1. Hurting people hurt people 
  2. We must do our unique part, but trust God with the rest
  3. God cares more than me, let Him carry the burden
  4. Environments of grace and love heal 
  5. People need to be heard more than talked to
  6.  If you try to help the hurting, you will fail often – but it’s still worth it. 
  7. Many of these issues have a demonic component to them that must be addressed. 
  8. If the change doesn’t come from Jesus, it won’t last. The Holy Spirit must be invited in to change the heart. Lead people to Jesus for healing. 
  9. Often our presence is more powerful than our actions or words. Walk with them in love and grace. 
  10. True healing comes with the fusion of 100% grace and 100% truth. Don’t fall into the lie that you must compromise one for the other. “truth in love”
Read some of these verses: Ex. 34:6; Ps. 25:10, 26, 57:3, 85:10; 86:15, 88:11, 89:1-2; Pr. 3:3, 14:22, 16:5; Hosea 4:1, Mic. 7:20
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