GOD IS COMPASSIONATE

“And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.”
Mark 1:41

Our God cares about hurting people. Five times in the Bible the Lord is described as being full of compassion. Compassion carries with it the idea of feeling the hurt of another. Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary begins the definition of compassion with these words, “A suffering with another; painful sympathy; a sensation of sorrow excited by the distress or misfortunes of another.” When God’s people were in their Egyptian bondage, the Bible says, “And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them” (Exodus 3:7, 8). This is the God of the Bible – the God that we love.

One of the most unfounded accusations that could be made toward our wonderful Lord is when critics accuse Him of not caring. Nothing could be farther from the truth. God cares deeply about His creation. He is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15). He sees the needs and feels the pain of those who are hurting. He is full of compassion.

This compassion that God has and is moves Him to action. In our text, Jesus was “moved with compassion” and put forth His hand to help and to heal. His compassion is not a passive love and feeling of pity, but it is compassion that is expressed in benevolent activity. Jesus identified His purpose for coming to this earth as being sent to heal those who were broken-hearted and delivering those who were captive and bruised.

True compassion involves our emotions, but it does not end there. It will result in assistance and deeds of concern. We need to be men and women of compassion. It is not enough to feel sorry for people or simply pity them, we need to bring Jesus to them and bring them to Jesus. Jesus told the story of a man going to Jericho who fell among thieves who abused him and abandoned him. A priest and a Levite passed by, but showed no compassion. The Samaritan responded differently. He went to the abused man, bound up his wounds, put the hurting man on his own beast, delivered him to an inn, and took care of him. This is the kind of compassion our Savior has, and this is the way He wants us to be.

GOD IS MILITANT

“The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.”
Exodus 15:3

In the past few generations, a spirit of pacifism has permeated our culture. This view of war as being evil for virtually any cause has affected the way people look at God. Many see God as an enemy of war and an advocate of peace at any cost. However, the Word of God declares, “The LORD is a man of war.” The word militant means “engaged in warfare, aggressively active in a cause.” This is an attribute of God that is frequently ignored or underestimated. God is very much engaged in a spiritual battle. He is aggressive in His pursuits, not passive.

When Lucifer rebelled against God, he was expelled from Heaven and became God’s enemy. This was a declaration of war, and this conflict will continue until Satan is “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:10). This is a war between good and evil, between truth and error, between God and His enemies. When the children of Israel were sent into Canaan, they were there to conquer the land for God and righteousness. When David faced Goliath, he stood valiantly in the name of the Lord and declared, “the battle is the LORD’s” (I Samuel 17:47).

This spiritual warfare continues to rage. When we came to Christ, we were introduced to this ongoing conflict. Our battle is “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). And the battle is still the Lord’s. He is the One that gives the victory. He “is a man of war.” He gives the victory as we walk by faith and trust Him completely. Our flesh can never prevail in its strength alone. Through Jesus Christ, we are more than conquerors.

The Psalmist said in Psalm 24:8, “Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.” God is our mighty conqueror. We battle daily with temptations, with our own flesh and emotions, with our thought life, and with the godless world and the devil’s devices. By faith, we look to the Lord and confidently trust Him for the victory. One day our conquering King will come again, and in righteousness He will “judge and make war” (Revelation 19:11). We are not in this battle alone. God fights for us, defends us, leads us into battle, and will one day triumph over evil. Thank God, we are on the winning side.

GOD IS JEALOUS

“For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
Exodus 34:14

God wants our love for Himself. He tolerates no rivals when it comes to our devotion. Israel was guilty of worshipping other gods in the Old Testament, and they “moved him to jealousy with their graven images” (Psalm 78:58). These people were not a people until God called them to Himself. God gave Israel an identity, a purpose, a place of dwelling, and a peculiar relationship with Himself. They belonged to Him like no other people, and He was jealous of their affection.

Jesus loves us and purchased us with His own blood. He is perfectly just in requiring our complete devotion. Paul used similar language with the church at Corinth, where the church is presented as a betrothed bride for Jesus. “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (II Corinthians 11:2). This image of a bride waiting for the wedding day should help us better understand the faithfulness that God expects from His children. God is jealous.

Nothing should stand between our souls and the Savior. There are forces without and within that compete for our affection. The world and the things of the world are alluring to the flesh. James called those who made themselves a friend of the world, adulterers and adulteresses. God is jealous over His children. To love the world is considered spiritual adultery. God describes the importance of our faithfulness to Him in this term to help us understand how serious He is about our love. He is jealous over us. This should cause us to appreciate His fervent devotion to us and recognize the importance of keeping our love for Him strong and unchallenged. Many things can distract our love for Him. Hobbies, the pursuit of pleasure or riches, friendships, and even family can compete for the affection that He desires and deserves.

God is jealous of our trust and dependence on Him. He does not want us to trust in the arm of the flesh or human wisdom. He is jealous of our fellowship and companionship, wanting to be our closest friend. God is completely committed to us, and we will never have reason to question His loyalty or love. He is, therefore, righteously jealous in expecting us to be totally committed to Him.

GOD IS JUST

“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”
Deuteronomy 32:4

In a world overtaken with corruption and compromise, there is a source of truth and justice; it is found in the living God, “just and right is he.” Words that help explain the meaning of just are right, lawful, and equal. God is morally right and righteous in all that He does. Friendships, fears, flatteries, or false information may influence men and thus pervert justice. However, God – because of His holy character and perfect nature – will always act justly. The Lord God is a righteous Judge. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

Because God is just, He establishes and imposes just laws and then executes them righteously. He will give to everyone what is due. Because He is just, He is impartial in His judgment. God cannot be deceived, and it would be futile to attempt to bribe Him. “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). We may not always understand or fully agree with God’s judgments, but we can have complete confidence that what He does is always right.

God is just in the penalties He exacts for transgression. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Because He is just, He requires that proper payment be made for sin. Also, He allows a substitute to pay for the sin of another. Thus, His Son made the just payment for our sins through His death on the cross and completely satisfied the just judgment of our sin. The penalty has been paid in full and God can and will forgive the sins of those who accept His payment. He is at one time “just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).

One of the common cries of the Old Testament prophets was the lack of justice among the corrupt leaders of Israel. The moral character and weakness of men today have resulted in a dearth of justice. In our current political climate, many government leaders are for sale and will champion any cause that wins them favor. Even in the arena of professing Christians, truth has fallen in the streets. There is a great need for men and women of justice and integrity who look to the Rock for wisdom. Thank God, there is a day coming when Jesus Christ will return to this earth and will judge the world in righteousness.

GOD IS MERCIFUL

“Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.”
Joel 2:12, 13

Mercy is one of the most magnificent words in the English language. In Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, these words are found defining mercy: “That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant.”

Mercy is when we do not receive the punishment that we deserve. None of us deserve forgiveness. It is because of His mercy that we are not eternally doomed. “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22). Where would we be were it not for the mercy of God? Wrath is what we deserve because of our rebellion, but mercy is available. The only hope for a guilty sinner is the mercy of God. If we do not receive God’s mercy and undeserved forgiveness, the only option is receiving His wrath. The Scripture encourages us to turn to God with repentance because He “is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.” God desires and prefers to forgive, but there must be sincere confession and repentance. We are only saved because God is merciful.

We are able to see in the Lord’s attributes both a portrait of how God is and also an image of how He wants us to be. Because we have been shown mercy, God wants us to show mercy to others. Matthew 5:7 tells us, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” We are to be merciful to others. Knowing how to treat others is often made clearer when we remember the way God has treated us. We thank God that He has not given us the punishment that we duly deserve. We have found forgiveness because of His mercy. Though we were guilty of many transgressions, we have been freely pardoned. Because we have received mercy, we should be ready to show mercy to others.

GOD IS LONGSUFFERING

“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”
I Timothy 1:16

Aren’t we glad that God is longsuffering? The word longsuffering means “to be patient, forbearing, or long spirited.” God is very patient with us. I have heard numerous complaints about how God does not act swiftly enough in coming through for people, as far as our needs are concerned. We tend to get impatient with God at times. Why doesn’t He act more promptly? Why does He take so long to respond? We should be equally glad that He is not so swift to give us the punishment we deserve. If God were not so patient, we would have been gone long ago. Thank God for His patience, or longsuffering.

Every one of us that is saved, is born again because of God’s patience. That is what Paul is referring to in the Scripture, “that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering.” Paul knew that his conversion to Christ was a pattern for others to see how longsuffering God is. Paul had been a persecutor of Christians and churches. He was public enemy number one against the work of God in his day. Every day he continued to live in opposition to God. The grace that brought salvation to Paul was a testimony to the longsuffering of God. God would have been justified in destroying Paul the first time he raised his voice or his hand against God’s children. But God is longsuffering, or patient. In the same manner, God had every right to remove us for our prideful, self-centered living. I am so thankful for this simple fact: God is longsuffering.

Since God is so patient with us, doesn’t it stand to reason that we should be longsuffering with others? If we could only be half as patient with others as God has been with us, what a difference it would make. When we are losing patience with others – saints or sinners – it would be wise to remember how longsuffering God has been with us.

In fact, God is longsuffering with the lost because He wants to see them be saved. He is “…longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). There is a reason that God is not rushing to bring this world to an end; He wants people to come to Him. May God help us to use the time we have to influence others for Christ.

GOD IS LOVE

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
I John 4:10

We will never fully comprehend God and all of His attributes, but we benefit from meditating on various aspects of His character, including His love. In understanding and appreciating the love of God, we begin to relate to many of His other qualities. His condescension, mercy, longsuffering, compassion, etc., are all various expressions of His love. John put it so simply, and yet powerfully, when he said, “God is love” (I John 4:8). Many have no concept of the great love that God has for each of us. He does not love us because we have earned it or deserve it. Instead, He loved us while we were still in our sin.

The most vivid expression of God’s love is the offering of His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (I John 3:16). When we look at the cross, we see the love of God for mankind. He loves us so much that He gave His Son to die for our sins.

There are many reasons why it is imperative that we begin to lay hold of this great love God has for us. If we do not begin to grasp His love for us, we will not develop the love that we should have for God. “We love him, because he first loved us” (I John 4:19). The more we experience and appreciate God’s great love for us, the more our love for God will grow. We are commanded to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. The more real His love for us becomes, the more we will naturally respond by loving Him.

The more we love Him, the more we will obey Him. Obedience to Christ is a response to His love. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). His love for us is a pattern for the way we are to love others. We love others because He loves us, and in the way He loves us. We love others in spite of the way they treat us because He loved us when we were still in our sin. Jesus charged us in this way, “…as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). His love for us was and is undeserved, and we are challenged to love others in the same way.

God’s love for us meets our greatest need. All of us long to be loved. Nothing provides security like knowing that we are sincerely loved, and we find that comfort and confidence in His love.

GOD’S CONDESCENSION

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
II Corinthians 8:9

To condescend is a voluntary descent, usually referring to a descent from rank or dignity. When we speak of God’s condescension, we are speaking of how He, in all of His glory and holiness, chooses to identify with fallen and frail men. This is the grace of God: that “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor.” This is truly one of the amazing attributes of God. He comes down to where we are. David made mention of this in Psalm 8:3, 4 when he said, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him?”

How marvelous it is that God would think of us. We could never reach to the heavens or attain the holiness of God. It is not possible that we could gain an entrance into the presence of the eternal and almighty Creator. But when we could not come to where He was, He came to us. We could never have known God had He not made Himself known. We would never be able to go to Heaven had He not come to us and made a way for us to be with Him one day. Men of great wealth and position are often untouchable and separated from those beneath them, but God comes down to where we are – not in compromising His character, but to lift us up to Himself.

His glorious condescension is seen in the privilege of prayer. Why would the eternal God listen to and seriously consider our pleas? Why would God visit Abraham and confer with him before He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah? Because of His condescension He loves us, cares for us and has come down to commune with us.

We are not privileged to serve the Lord because we attained such a lofty position, but rather, because He has made it available to us. What a more wonderful picture of God’s condescension is seen in the incarnation of Christ! God would become a man and take upon Himself the form of a servant, that He might redeem fallen man through His vicarious death on the cross, O what a Savior! Our souls rejoice and marvel at this great truth, that God would come to us, commune with us, and commit to us, so that one day we, though weak and undeserving, might come to Him.

THE WRATH OF GOD

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.”
Romans 1:18

Some find it difficult to reconcile God’s love with His anger and wrath. They see God as being compassionate and kind, but they struggle with comprehending the wrath of God. We are comforted and secure in the confidence that God does indeed love us as no mortal could, but that does not mean He is not angered by sin. There are many in our world that prefer a God who loves them but reject a God who would judge them. It is this kind of perverted view that leads parents to say they love their children too much to correct them.

Regardless of men’s opinions, there is much evidence that the God of the Bible is a God of wrath. In Noah’s day, God destroyed the population of the world because of the wickedness of man. The flood was a demonstration of God’s wrath. Similarly, God rained fire and brimstone on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of His wrath. There are many examples of God’s wrath found in the pages of Scripture. According to the pure Word of God, there is coming a day when God’s wrath will be poured out on this earth in a way that has never been seen before. The Bible refers to it as a time of great tribulation, and it will take place on the earth after the saved are caught up to be with the Lord in the air. “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:17). After this period of unprecedented wrath and judgment, those who are not saved, along with the devil and his angels, will spend eternity in the lake of fire experiencing the full measure of God’s wrath.

God is truly a God of mercy and love, but He is also a God of wrath. Those who reject God’s salvation through grace will one day experience His great wrath. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).

As God’s children, we know His loving correction and chastisement but we will never face His horrible wrath. Thank God for His great love that sent Jesus to die for sinners on the cruel cross of Calvary. Were it not for His mercy and forgiveness, we would one day experience His wrath. Like John the Baptist, we are to warn others to flee from the wrath to come.

GOD IS HOLY

“For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”
Leviticus 11:45

No word more fully addresses the moral attributes of God than the word holy. The primary meaning of the word holy is separate. Because God is holy, He is distinct – far above and beyond all others in His character and nature. Holiness is the opposite of common or profane. To be holy is also to be morally pure. Holiness is the absence of sin. Everything about God is holy. His name is holy. His Word is holy. His tithe is holy. His church is holy.

We live in a day of great compromise and moral weakness. Sacred things are treated as being profane. The reverence for God that was once common is hardly found. Worship has become man-centered rather than God-centered. The sacred music of the churches has been replaced with sounds of entertainment. The call for holiness has given way to, “Come as you are. Be as you wish.” God has not changed. He is still holy. To judge by the saddening trends of contemporary religion, one would gather that the God of the Bible has been given a complete makeover and has redesigned His nature for the current generation. Obviously, this is not true. The image portrayed by the modern generation of celebrity preachers is a false image and is not the holy God of the Bible.

Not only does God exhibit holiness, He also requires holiness in His children. “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” (Habakkuk 1:13). “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” (Hebrews 12:14). “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8). Personal holiness begins with salvation. No one is holy apart from Jesus Christ. When one turns from his sin and trusts Christ completely as Savior, his sins are forgiven. At that moment, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the new believer; and God’s Word gives him the title of saint. Those who are saved are set apart to God as members of His forever family.

Personal holiness should also continue in our lives as we grow in grace, meaning that we are to be set apart to God and set apart from sin. God calls His children to live holy lives. Holiness should be reflected both in the desires of the heart and in the decisions of the life. Because He is holy, it is our desire and destiny to be holy.