How do you recognize people? Iím not talking about by their hairstyle or dress. When we think of friends or family we donít focus on outward appearances; rather, their true identify is found in their personality traits. What they stand for, their morals, their beliefs and their way of doing things make people who they are.
The same is true about God. When you think of God, what comes to mind? Too often we forget He too has an identity that is separate from His appearance. God is not just a spirit being, sitting on His throne judging the world. Sadly, this is the mental image many people have of Him. It is only those who are desperate for more that will come to know Him on a deeper level than a simple mental image. Moses was one such man. He wanted to know the God He was serving; not just about Him. He had talked with God on several prior occasions, and yet he still wasnít satisfied. He didnít want to only serve God because He was God. He wanted to know more of His character. When we discover the character of God, a greater love and appreciation is developed towards Him.
Although we canít see Him face to face, we can come to understand who He is based on scripture. Through the red letters, Jesus gave us a lot of insight into the heart of God.
Surprisingly, we come to understand quite a bit about Godís character based on His view of sin. Jesus taught in Matthew 5 hate is murder and lust is adultery. Harboring these thoughts in our heart is displeasing to Him.
GODíS TAKE ON SIN
But why does He care if we harbor lust or envy in our hearts? Most of the time we donít even act out our sinful thoughts. Our hearts tell more of who we are than our actions do. Our hearts may not be exposed to the world, but they are clearly seen before God. Our hearts identify who we are and what weíre living for. God who also lives in the secret place knows and sees in secret. The hidden things are more alive to God than the exposed things. Outward expressions can be faked, but the true state of the heart cannot lie.
When we harbor sin in our hearts, we are harboring the very opposite of Godís nature. Our sinful nature has no part of God in it. As children of God, we are to emanate His nature. We are to strive to be as much like Him as possible. Matthew 5:45 explains it best: That you may be sons of your Father in heaven. My two-year-old son follows his dad around everywhere. He enjoys being with him and at times imitates his speech and actions. The older he is getting, the closer his relationship is developing with his daddy. Our Father desires the same thing in His children; to reflect who He is reveals the depth of our commitment and passion for Him. Our willingness to please God is clearly seen through our actions and more importantly through our thought life.
DOING GOOD EVEN WHEN ITíS NOT DESERVED
The question is: What can we learn about God through Jesusí words and how do we live by them?
In Matthew 5, we read about Godís take on being treated unjustly by others. Jesus said to love, bless, do good and pray for those that treat us like enemies. What profit is that? It would seem more justly to destroy our enemies. But through doing good we are putting to death our selfish nature that is contrary to God and taking on our Fatherís nature. It doesnít matter if they deserve it or not. We read in v. 45 He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. We often wonder why God allows evilness to prevail on the earth. Why doesnít God just destroy all wickedness and those that commit it? Because He is showing His goodness to all. On judgment day all evil will be punished. In the meantime, if we open our eyes, we can see into the character of God through this passage. To have breath in our lungs, to see the sun rise over the earth and to see the stars glowing, all point towards Godís mercy and kindness to all who dwell on the earth. In our minds eye, we would think to seclude goodness to those that are good while neglecting the bad. That is our human mind thought. But God is not like man. When Jesus taught us in verse 44, But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, and verse 46, If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? He was teaching us the character of God. Being like our Father is going above human emotion and doing what does not come natural nor easy.
Verse 48 sums it all up. Therefore you shall be perfect just as your Father is perfect.
GOD DWELLS IN THE SECRET PLACE
Although we see Godís handiwork, we canít see Him with our eyes. You could say He is in secret. We pray to Him even though we donít always sense His nearness. Itís the secret things that go on in the earth that God takes notice of the most. Outward acts are done to be seen and praised by man. The Pharisees were notable for doing charitable deeds only to be praised by men. Outward acts of charity are common and make the giver look like an angel. Everyone and anyone is capable of drawing the praise of men this way, but this should never be our reason for doing good.
God who is in secret knows the secret motives and intentions of our heart and will reward us accordingly. Anytime we take strides to be more like Him, He will take notice.