Monday, October 6, 2014

October 4 – Compassionate and gracious

The Lord passed by before him and proclaimed: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness…”  (Exodus 34:6 NET)

This is the age when the doctrine of grace is distorted beyond recognition. I know this from personal experience as I’ve counseled so many former members of well-established churches who run the gamut of either not knowing what it means to be a Christian, or disagree with the Bible and are insulted by God’s commands to live a holy life.  Sunday school teachers involved in sexual immorality or drug addictions have been reinstated into their duties just because they cried and “repented.”  They were told that God’s grace is sufficient, we are all just human, and all that matters is that they keep trying – and then went right back into their addictions.

Yes, there is a verse that God’s grace is sufficient – sufficient for those who truly repent and die to their flesh.  Indulging in sin, crying in shame and then returning to that sin on a habitual basis, is not repentance.  God’s compassion gives us room to grow and room to change.  Anger can burn in Him, yet He is also slow to anger - a righteous anger based on His loyal love for us. 

Those who enjoy the idea of God’s grace without learning to hate their old lives don’t like the idea of an angry God.  They avoid passages about justice and holiness, and would rather not hear the word sacrifice.  They want the luxury of one comfortable portion of God’s Word, while ignoring the rest.  But when facing injustice personally, they can be full of anger, arguing with their family or against the government and all that is wrong in the world.  We can’t have it both ways.  Burning with indignation at personal injustice, while trying to squirm away from the justice of God, is living a double standard.  

Whatever is innocent, pure and right cannot be protected if there is no anger against evil.  That means if we have no anger against the evil in our own flesh, the innocence and purity that God wants to grace us with, can never be ours.  

In this passage, God is giving the Ten Commandments to Moses and establishing a lasting covenant with His people on Mt. Sinai.  He calls Himself twice by the only name Moses knows at that time, “The LORD, the LORD,” meaning, “I Am, I Am.”  He is emphatically stating that He truly is compassionate, gracious, and abounding in loyal love.  His promises and covenants are unbreakable.  He is nothing like any false god that the world has known – those common gods such as Baal who are spiteful, fickle, and cruel.  Yet anger is not absent from God, because love for good cannot exist without hatred for evil.   

The grace of God cannot function in a vacuum.  Enjoy His abundant love and faithfulness, by hating what He hates and die to our flesh.  To live a holy life means living in His safety and compassion.

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