|Vol. 13 No. 9 September 2011||
There have been many questions as to who God is, but it is very different to ask what God is. There are three aspects as to what God is that people wish to hear. The first of these aspects is one that is above the rest because without it the other aspects would not be possible. If you turn to 1 john 4:7-8, it says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” If God is love, then, it stands to reason that a Christian must love, for it is God we serve. John 3:16 says, “For God so Loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” You see, God is a God of love.
Not only is He love, but God is also a God of mercy. Romans 11:30-32 reads as, “For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.” We have received mercy in the form of a bloody cross that held the dying Savior. Hosea 2:23 says this, “Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; Then I will say to those who were not My people, You are My people! And they shall say, You are my God!” Here we have a prediction of the mercy shown to us in the church as a result of the Christ’s suffering. His suffering came from the mercy of God. Did we deserve this mercy? Of course not, God gave us mercy because He is love and He is merciful.
Along these same lines, we can see that God is faithful. First Corinthians 10:13 reads, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” God is faithful to a species that is notoriously unfaithful. Why is He so faithful? He is so faithful because God is love and He is mercy. He has been faithful to His Word; when He promised the Messiah, the Messiah came. His faithfulness will be the source of great sorrow and anguish. Matthew 13:49-50 tells us, “So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Not all of God’s faithfulness is something to be jubilant about. For those living in sin, His faithfulness is a nightmare of eternity. Take courage, though, because His promise of a better home for us in Christ will come to fruition, and we will be given a place in heaven.
I recently heard this story on the radio, which illustrates a very important, but oftentimes understated principle. A grandmother was commenting on her 8-year-old grandson’s interest in their congregation’s effort to help collect funds for orphans overseas. He would save his allowance and put the money in a container for the special contribution. When she asked him why he was so interested in helping out with this, his response was simple but powerful. “I want to help kids who need to be helped, and all I would do with the money anyway is buy another toy.” The grandmother commented, “I wonder how many toys I could give up to help others in need?”
Children have tender hearts, and many times they have a better insight into the kind of heart God wants us to have than we adults. Certainly, God wants us to have a heart of generosity, which comes from understanding how blessed we truly are. Paul wrote the church in Corinth about this, after they began to hesitate in fulfilling a promise to give generously for the needs of the poor saints elsewhere, he reminded them, “Therefore I considered it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance the generous gift you promised, so that it will be ready as a gift and not as an extortion” (2 Corinthians 9:5). Paul did not want them to think they were being taken advantage of by giving to help the needs of others, to have an attitude of greed and to hoard for themselves the blessings God had given them. He went on to say, “Remember this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart — not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
What are the “toys” of our hearts and lives we could let go to offer more in return to our God? It does not involve just our finances, but the use of our time, talents and the whole of our lives. Paul wanted the church in Ephesus to make the most of its time (Ephesians 5:16). The Parable of the Talents reminds us not to bury ours in selfishness, but to use them to fulfill the will of God (Matthew 25:14-30). All of our lives should be lived to please God, as He is the source of all the blessings we have. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Certainly, none of us individually possess all the resources needed to provide for all the necessities of life that are lacking in others around us. All of us, however, from time to time, should take inventory of how we make use of what God has blessed us with. Do we see opportunities to be channels of blessings? God told Abram, “I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). Are we using our blessings to be a blessing to others? In judgment, we will give account of how we have responded to each other (Matthew 25:31-46). May we seek to cultivate a spirit of generosity in our hearts, so God may enable us to excel in every good work. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).