God Reveals Himself Experientially
25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
26 to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
27 You save the humble
but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.
Everywhere in the Bible, we see God revealing Himself. He does so through His word. He reveals His amazing character through His interaction with His creation. We have the wonderful opportunity to observe through reading God’s word exactly how He interacts with us in the universe that He created. We have been provided the perfect place to keenly observe, without filter or pretense, what has gone on before. This gives us a better perspective of what we should expect from our God, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
But He goes much deeper than that. As we start on the path of reconciliation with God through repentance and sanctification, we begin to desire to experience God on a more personal level. The only way to do that is to walk with someone.
When you walk with someone, you have the opportunity to share in the life-experiences of that person. You are there when things happen, and are immediately impacted by the results of the circumstances that you both encounter. God does not merely want us to read about what He did yesterday (or a long time ago, in our cases); He wants to us personally be involved with Him in what He is doing today and what He is planning to do tomorrow.
Jesus called us to follow Him. The Greek word for follow is akoloutheo. It means to walk alongside someone, shoulder to shoulder, if you will, almost as if you were in lock-step with them.
When we being to experience God’s character by walking with Him, He reveals Himself in a greater and deeper way to us.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
In the case of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reveals that to those who exhibit the Godly character of Mercy, He will reveal Himself by being Merciful to them. The benefits of experiencing God’s character is that God makes it real to us as we exhibit it. It becomes experiential knowledge rather than just head-knowledge.
If a person always has food to eat, hunger truly isn’t real for them. They may understand hunger at a simple level, maybe if they miss a meal, or fast for a short period of time. But to truly understand hunger, a person must be in the position of not even having the option of eating for a very long time. Whether that is self-imposed or imposed by circumstances, the reality of not even having the opportunity to eat reveals the nature of hunger as it affects those so afflicted.
While we are forgiven our sins at the time we confess Jesus as Savior, we are afforded a more intimate knowledge of the character of Almighty God. To truly appreciate something, you generally have to pay for it yourself. Then you begin to understand the sacrifice, effort, and cost of something. Time, effort, and money are expended in the process that precludes the purchase of other things. Everything comes at a price and, unless you have unlimited time, money, and skill, there are only so many choices that can be made. Likewise, when we participate in the character of God, we give up the right to exercise other options that are available to us at the price of following the path of righteousness.
For instance, forgiveness comes at a three-fold cost. First, there is the initial harm that we experience when we are wronged. Second, there is loss as we give up all claim at justly recovering (if that is even possible) what was originally ours. Finally, we suffer harm in knowing that justice for the offense will not occur (in the case of those whose sin has been forgiven. In the case of those who refused to believe God in life, they will suffer the most grievous and just penalty for that in the Lake of Fire, and there justice is fully meted out).
We are warned by the Psalmist that we need to be careful in how we conduct ourselves with regards to character. God reveals His character as a Just Judge when we exhibit ungodliness in our own character:
Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.
Even in the case of ungodly character, God reveals Himself to us as well, even if it is in a less pleasant manner and method.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I daily receiving a more experiential knowledge of God’s character?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You have revealed Yourself to me in Your word. Help me to put into practice all that I have read and learned, so that I may better experience Your character and understand the depth and breadth of the love that You have for me. As I experience this, help me to better love my neighbor as myself, and love one another as You have loved me. Help me to love You as You desire to be loved, and I pray that my character, daily, would more closely align with Yours until they are indistinguishable from each other. I ask, Father, that You help me to yield myself to the Holy Spirit so that He can work more effortless through me and in me, that Your character would be on display for the world to see. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.