“And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished…’” Exodus 34:6-7a
First Century Jewish culture had no problem understanding truth. Rules and regulations were a way of life. When we think about the Old Testament, most of us think about commandments – thou shalt and thou shalt not. After all, Pharisees found 613 commandments that they built their lives around, which are recorded in the first five books of the Bible. Many incorrectly assume that grace didn’t enter the picture until the New Testament…but that is not the case.
God’s character does not change. He has always been compassionate and gracious – even in the Old Testament. It is no coincidence that even as God was giving Moses the Law, He passed in front of Moses, describing Himself first as compassionate, gracious; slow to anger, and abounding in love. He went on to say that He punishes sin, but isn’t it interesting that He began with His graciousness, not with His judgment? It makes sense; especially since Romans 2:4 tells us that God’s kindness is intended to lead us to repentance.
While God’s grace was definitely present in the Old Testament, when Jesus came into the world the light of grace burst through like the morning sun. Jesus loved hanging out with sinners…and they loved hanging out with Him. He drew the unbelieving like a magnet draws iron. In Jesus, the stern face of the Law was transformed into the shining face of grace. Jesus’ love for people was obvious. He never compromised the truth of God’s Word; but it was always evident that Jesus cared for people and wanted the best for them. Can we as His followers say the same about ourselves?
It is absolutely imperative that we never compromise the truth of God’s Word. However, it is equally as imperative that we love one another. If the God of the universe – the only One worthy to judge sin – spoke first of His own grace and compassion – how can we not do the same? As Christ followers, we should be known by our love as we extend the same grace to others that we have received ourselves…grace that we did not deserve or do anything to earn…grace that we received while we were still far from God.
God, Thank You for Your grace and compassion to me in Jesus. Please forgive me for the times I do not show others the same grace that You have shown me. Please change my heart and teach me to love others as You have loved me. In Jesus’ name, amen.