When we look at God, what we often see is a product of our own human condition. This is natural and understandable, but it doesn’t reflect who God truly is. Rather, what we seem is sometimes a reflection of our own insecurities, doubts, worries, failures, pain and guilt. When we see God, do we see who He truly is, or is He a substitute?
Here are some characteristics we project onto God that don’t belong to him.
Our God is thoughtful always, and full of good thoughts of us. The Psalmist says, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand.” He continues, “I awake, and I am still with you.” This verse might as well read, “How precious are your thoughts of me.”
God never tires of thinking of you. As Catholic mystic Angelus Silesius said, “If God stopped thinking of me, He would cease to exist.” While we humans can be careless and thoughtless, God never is, and His thoughts are precious treasures when demonstrated to us through Scripture and revelation.
Cruelty may be rendered as “inhumanity,” and God—being a divine Person—is incapable of inhumanity. The character trait of cruelty, maliciousness or barbarism is as foreign to God as evil itself. God is the opposite of cruel, and His kindness is known throughout the generations. As Titus put it in the third chapter of his epistle, “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us.”
The word “discrimination” is a difficult one, because we know that God favors those who believe in and call on Him—but does He discriminate? The answer is a resounding “no.” God loves all and desires for all to know Him. He welcomes every new child who chooses to believe regardless of their background, race, language, wealth or any other quality. Although we may discriminate in ways we don’t even realize, God’s generous love is free to all who will accept it, and His mercy is reserved even for those who don’t know Him.
God is full of love, and has no room in His heart for disdain. To disdain someone is to consider them beneath consideration or not valuable enough for respect. God created everything and has great love for all He created. John 3:16 tells us that God, in fact, loves the world, with all of its warts, its imperfections, its degraded love, its hurt. Psalm 136:26 reassures us that this love is not fleeting, but rather that it endures forever. For God to have disdain for His creation would be anathema to His character—God is love, absolute love, love without limit.
While human beings can be forgetful or even neglectful, God never neglects His creation. He is attentive to each and every one of our needs, and He is always listening to us when we speak to Him. The Message renders the second half of Hebrews 13:5 as, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you.” When we speak to God, we have the assurance that He is attentive to our needs; and not only does He listen, He answers. Matthew 7:7 says that if we ask and seek, we will find and He will answer. God is always, always attentive to us.
The word “reckless” means without care or thought for one’s actions. Unlike some popular worship songs sometimes suggest, God is not reckless. Rather, God knows every outcome and does not take risks without knowing them. His love is so much stronger than recklessness would allow—it’s thoughtful, steady, ever-present and abiding and given with great care and attention. To reduce God to recklessness would be to take away some of His most enduring qualities and would strip him of the mindfulness and circumspection he embodies.
While it’s easy to take human qualities and ascribe them to God, it’s important to remember that God is not a human being, but the perfect combination of all of humankind’s best qualities. He is the very pinnacle of being, and for Him to give in to the weaknesses that make us so human is not in His nature. Rather, God is the epitome of everything that is just, kind, good and loving in the world. As we dwell in Him, may we love Him for what He is… and allow ourselves to be thankful for the many things He is not.
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