Character of God – Genesis 17:23

God Is Character Driven, Not Emotion Driven

On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him.

Character Counts

Aren’t you glad that God is driven by perfect character?  Imagine a universe where God, rather than keeping His promises, did whatever He felt like doing?

  • Moses cries out to God to part the Red Sea.  God COULD have said to Moses, “You wicked and unbelieving generation!  I should let you all die at the hands of Pharaoh.  I am angry enough to just start over again with ANOTHER flood and choose a new Abraham.”
  • When David said, “I have sinned” after Nathan confronted him about Bathsheba and Uriah, God COULD have said, “I am so disappointed in you!  I raised you up from the lowliest of positions to the highest position in the land, but now I am filled with such sorrow.  I’ll find another king to use.  You are no longer useful to me because I am tired of you.”
  • When Saul of Tarsus was murdering Christians in the name of God, The Lord Almighty COULD have said, “Saul, You disgust me because you are killing my people.  It is now time to face judgement for what you have done.  Your life is required of you.  I’ll find another person to use as my twelfth apostle.”

God ALWAYS keeps His promises.  If He didn’t, why would we follow that God?  How is a capricious, moody, deceiving God worth following?  If God deceived us, why should we call Him Holy?

The good news for us, as we know, is that the character of YHWH is perfect, and everything that He does conforms to His perfect character.  So when God says He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life, we can believe it, rejoice in it, own it, be secure in it, and draw close to God through it.

Emotions Evolve

God follows this model:

  1. God’s Intellect (mind) directs His Will.  Since God is all-knowing, wisdom should be our guide.
  2. God’s Will then submits to His Intellect
  3. God’s Will then directs His Emotions
  4. God’s Emotions then submit to His Will

The devil likes to corrupt everything that God has established.  So the devil tries to convince the world that they should “listen to their heart” and ignore their intellect – their conscience (con=”with”, science=”knowledge”) – and reality.  After all, the emotions make us “happy”, and we all want to be “happy”!  So the devil instructs the world to follow this paradigm:

  1. Man’s emotions should direct his will.  Man’s emotions don’t lie to him and we are heartless if we don’t listen to them.  What will others think of us?
  2. Man’s will then submits to his emotions
  3. Man’s will then directs and informs his intellect.  After all, facts don’t matter, logic doesn’t matter – just follow your heart, and you will be fine!
  4. Man’s intellect then submits to his will.  Man wants to be liked by others and cares very much about what others think about him.  “Peer pressure” is the defining influence in our lives, therefore rules and logic have  no place when we feel comfortable with what we are doing.  So we “justify” it in our intellect, and don’t let anyone convince us otherwise – we are listening to our hearts!  We are at the apex of understanding!  We have transcended facts and logic!  We have evolved into a higher plane of thinking!  We are now superior to everyone and anyone else!  Don’t you feel better about yourself now?

Our emotions are about as stable as a small boat in the ocean.  One minute we are happy, fine, enjoying ourselves, and the next moment, someone says something or something happens to us, and we go on an emotional roller-coaster as the waves break over the sides of the boat.  Our emotions are the shakiest foundation upon which we should base our decisions.  Yet, isn’t that how most people make decisions today?

Intellectual Intrigue

Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.  The scripture says that very day Abraham circumcised all of the males with him.  Abraham was serious about what God had to say.  He was obedient!  He didn’t pass it through a committee; he didn’t have everyone vote on it; he didn’t stop and ponder how he felt about it; he didn’t question God about why anyone would alter their body in such a painful fashion; he just obeyed.  His intellect directed his will, and his will told his emotions to line up with the intellect, and he did what was required of him quickly and without argument.  Is that not how we should respond to the Word of the Living God?

Here is a non-exhaustive list comparing character driven vs. emotion driven people:

Character Driven Emotion Driven
What are my responsibilities? What are my rights?
Be there on time Cancel because something better came up
Learn all about the job Wing it
Submit to others Do it my own way
Do the work to best of my ability Do the minimum amount of work needed

A Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask ourselves a question: Am I Character Driven, or Emotion Driven?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I will sing praises to You, for You are holy, righteous, just, but full of mercy and grace. You do everything that You say that You will do, and we can rest in full assurance that Your promises will be upheld by You.  Your character is perfect, and you do not change like shifting shadows.  Father, mold me, shape me, and change me so that my character matches Yours.  Help me to walk in way that Jesus walked when He was with the disciples.  Guard my ways, and help me to always do what I say I will do.  Strengthen me when my emotions rise up like a flood and threaten to drown me.  Provide me with Your peace as I seek to be obedient to You.  This I ask and pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Trusting in God – Psalm 56:3

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

Fear is an interesting emotion.  Just about everyone has experienced the heart wrenching, gut kicking, grip of fear in their lives.  When we experience that level of emotion, it has a tendency to so overpower us that we are unable to see things clearly – it effectively incapacitates us.  Fear is a natural response that God gave us to help us to survive.  Without fear, we would most probably do things that no level-headed person would ever consider doing.

The Bible indicates that fear has to do with punishment.  Yet we are told to fear God.  In the latter case, this is a reverent trust in God; not a gripping, emotional aversion.  How we respond in circumstances is a witness to the power and glory of God.  When we show fear, we are in effect saying that we cannot trust God to deliver us from our circumstances.  While this may seem odd, you may want to take a look at the life of King Hezekiah when Assyria was threatening the kingdom of Judah.

When we trust in the Lord, even when there seems to be no way to victory, it brings glory to God, and strengthens our faith.  The reason we trust is because God is faithful.  And in that, we are able to be faithful, regardless of the issues that plague us.  We trust in God for the big stuff – Salvation, Resurrection, Eternal Life, etc.  But we are told to have faith like little children.  They don’t question – they have complete, unwavering faith in their parents, especially when they don’t understand something.

So let’s ask the question:  Are we trusting God in the little stuff?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, in my times of need, please drive all fear out of my heart so that I may be able to trust you more.  My fear gets in the way of trusting that You are who You say You are.  Deepen my faith in these times, Lord God, and help me to respond in a way that glorifies Your name.  You have revealed Yourself as faithful so that others may see Your faithfulness and trust in You.  Do not let my emotions instruct my will to direct my intellect; rather, help my intellect to instruct my will so that it can direct my emotions.  You are able to do this and far more than we can ever imagine, Lord God.  Help me to be faithful to You in childlike faith and trust.  This I ask and pray in Jesus’ name, Amen

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?