I’ve been thinking this morning about how God has been transforming my view of Him from harsh judge to Loving Father. I began very young singing the song “Jesus Loves Me” and had never questioned that He loved me, but functionally I lived as if He is a harsh judge.
To be sure, there is much about Him being a Judge all throughout the Bible, but He is not the harsh judge that we sometimes believe Him to be. He is the merciful, loving, all-knowing, all wise God Who sees all things. He does indeed judge hearts and minds – justly. It is His vast love that makes it impossible for Him to turn a blind eye to that which destroys. I Samuel 16:7b The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. He sees the inner workings and motives of everything we do.
This is VERY good news for us actually. This means that there is complete heart restoration possible for us if we respond to Him. He is always moving toward restoration, which is why humility is so important. This Loving Father God, sees the deepest parts of us. There is not a place in us that cannot be touched by His transformative love. Every single struggle, hope, dream, fear, failure, hurt and beautiful place in us are all seen by Him AND His love for us remains unchanged. I John 4:18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. IF WE ARE AFRAID, IT IS FOR FEAR OF PUNISHMENT, and this shows that WE HAVE NOT FULLY EXPERIENCED HIS PERFECT LOVE.
All that He does is an outflow of His heart of love towards us. If we truly understood the depth of His love for us, we would hold nothing back from Him. That’s why the enemy tries so hard to distort our views and keep us from coming BOLDLY before the Throne of Grace. Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. If we see God as a harsh judge, we will never boldly come to Him, but will rather slink around in fear and shame or live a life of endless striving. When we truly understand His heart towards us, we will come running to the place where there is mercy and grace for us.
I think of the difference between a parent who is able to love well and one who loves based on performance. A child who fails with the first parent, comes to the parent for comfort, hope and reassurance. The child who fails with the second parent, will retreat either in fear and shame or start grasping for approval when failure comes.
How we truly see God will always come to light when we fail or when others do. If our first response is to hide out in shame, then we can be sure that we don’t see Him as the Loving Father that He is. Some hide out by running as far from church and people who will help them along in their journey. We don’t have to look like we’re running to be running from Him though. We can be hiding out and going to church every Sunday. We can be hiding in a flurry of church activity. We can even be hiding and reading our Bible every single day. Doing these things are important, but they do not take the place of allowing God to go deep and change us. He does use these things in our life, but God wants a personal and intimate relationship with us.
The reward of His suffering is hearts that have been transformed by Him. It’s what He came for. Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. This is God’s heart towards us! Of course we can reject it, but this is what He wants for all people. A heart that has been transformed cannot help but point back to Him and bring Him glory. It’s what a truly transformed heart does.
Another reaction when we believe that God is a harsh judge is striving. You may say things or think things like, “It makes Jesus happy when…”, “If I do this, God will see that I’m really serious about Him,” “I need to prove to God that I am worth dying for,” and other statements or attitudes like this. A lot of time we know if we are functionally living out of this when we see others receive blessings that we don’t believe they deserve. “Why did they get that when I am the one working hard over here?” “Why do they seem to be hearing from God, when I am the one who has been….?” Jealousy proves that we believe we deserve what God has done for us as well as what He is doing for others. It is evidence that could possibly show that we functionally believe in a works based Gospel. “I deserve what I get and I must prove to God that I deserve to receive from Him.” When we do this, we are trying to reach for God through works rather than letting God reach towards us through grace. Rather than being threatened by those who receive, we will be genuinely happy for them.
Harsh judgments and endless criticizing of others is also evidence that we have not truly understood God’s heart. John 13:34-35 “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. YOUR LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER WILL PROVE TO THE WORLD THAT YOU ARE MY DISCIPLES.” If we truly have God’s heart for others, when they fail or having a hard time, we will be heartbroken for them. We will not feel even a little bit happy when others are in a tough spot. We will desire to see restoration in their lives. We will not slander them or gossip about them in an attempt to make us feel better about ourselves, but rather we will fight for them. This may mean privately in prayer or in confronting after God has given us His heart and mind in the matter. There will be compassion and the framework will always be love if we truly have God’s heart.
The God we have is a LOVING Father Who is patient, is kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, 5does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, 6does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, 7always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (I Corinthians 13:4-7)
There is so much freedom that comes when we humbly realize simply that we cannot. We cannot live holy. We cannot live whole. We cannot live loving. We cannot because we aren’t. He loves us there and when we respond to His love, He transforms us into people who can. People who can live holy. People who can walk whole. People who can live loving. We will because we are once He has transformed those bent, broken and sinful places. This is a continual process for us.
Our Loving Father Who sees the deepest parts of our heart, does indeed want to transform us! He knows every thought, intention and deep place in our heart. He loves us more than we can imagine and wants to change us from the inside out.
I love this! If you can, really take time and read every word carefully. It shows God’s amazing heart toward us and His power to change us…
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,e 15the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.f 16I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.17Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
20Now all glory to God, who is able, THROUGH HIS MIGHTY POWER TO WORK WITHIN US, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-20
24 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. 25 All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen. Jude 1:24-25
*PHOTO CREDIT – Tuxyso / <a href=”/wiki/Main_Page” title=”Main Page”>Wikimedia Commons</a>, <a href=”https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AM%C3%BCga_Wasserspiele_sw_2013.jpg”>via Wikimedia Commons</a>