I recently found myself in a difficult situation.
I spent time asking God for help, for guidance and for grace. As I was praying these things, I realized I was asking God for things He is fully capable of giving me. But I was asking in a way where I had already determined his response.
I was viewing the goodness of God’s character through the lens of my own capacity to be good. I was asking Him for help and expecting the response to be similar to what I was able to give if someone asked me for the same thing.
I think we see this tendency to view God’s character through the lens of our character all throughout the Bible. I think about a story in Matthew 10 about a young guy who asked Jesus for something, but was very sure about what Jesus’ answer would be even before he asked the question.
This guy was a leader. He had followed the teaching of God in that day to the T. He was “good” in every sense. One day Jesus is walking through this guy’s neighborhood,, and the young guy comes up to Jesus with this question, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”. I don’t know if you catch the undertone here, but this guy is looking for affirmation of what he has already done. He has worked hard, he has been ethical, and just and followed God’s word very closely.
Jesus responds to him and tells him to keep several of the commandments. The young guy stands up tall and proud and lets Jesus know he has done all of these things since a young age. Jesus then tells him, ““One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Now this young guy was very rich. In fact, the Matthew’s gospel calls him, the Rich Young Ruler. This was an answer from Jesus he didn’t foresee. The answer caught him so off guard that he just walked away sad.
The Rich Young Ruler had been viewing the character of God through his own capacity, his own ability, and his own accomplishments.
The result of doing this comparison game with God’s character is always walking away sad. We weren’t created to compare our character with God and expect to be ahead. We were created to at all times search the character, the goodness, and the grace of God and do all that we can to be more like it. It is what this whole Christian life is about – being more like Jesus.
The Bible tells us in the Psalms, “The Lord is perfect, and his word is flawless” (Psalm 18:30).
What I have found about myself is I am not perfect, and my word is often flawed. When we go to God for help, we need to remember He is not like us. His goodness does not vacillate; His grace does not waver. He is perfect in every way imaginable and in ways we simply cannot comprehend. My prayer for you and my prayer for myself is that we would stop trying to compare our goodness with the goodness of God. We serve a God who is perfect in every way; whose word is flawless and who can come to our rescue in ways unimaginable to us.
That is the power of God and the goodness of His character.