Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The interplay of God's attributes

One key to achieving an intimate relationship with God is knowing his will in many aspects of your life and the world around you.

Knowing what God did can't always accurately predict what he will do, since modern circumstances may vary from ancient ones, preventing direct application of what might be a peculiarly historical situation. Knowing why God did what he did, on the other hand, yields principles that translate to any time and any place.

While the scriptures describe much of what he has done, they do not necessarily describe why he has done it in immediately obvious ways.

When we study God's mind and will, we must also study his character. The key to understanding why God has done what he has done is to ask how his actions fulfilled aspects of his character.

God's character is rich beyond description. If we were to limit his attributes to, say, nine one-word descriptors, maybe we would say he is:

  • Patient
  • Meek
  • Loving
  • Kind
  • Knowledgable
  • Consistent
  • Just
  • Merciful
  • Good
Too many, having come this far, fall into the trap of looking at God in only one dimension of his character. To really understand why he acts the way he does, you have to look at all attributes at once.

The solar system consists of the sun and the planets. Each planet is different in size, mass, and orbit. The components of the solar system are all in motion. To understand the motion of each, you have to look at the effects of all. The sun is the governing body in the solar system, but it does not act independently of the planets. The sun alone does not explain the behavior of any one planet. 

In any situation, God's behavior is a result of all of his attributes acting together. His love is his governing attribute, but it does not act independent of, say, his justice. All aspects of his character are represented in everything he does.

If you want to learn more about who God is, study situations in the scriptures by asking, "how is this an example of God's patience, meekness, compassion, kindness, knowledge, consistency, justice, mercy, and goodness?" You will be surprised at the answers you receive, and they will draw you closer to him as you reconcile your own behavior to his perfect standard.