To what extent do you believe that God is actually a good father? Is he 10% good? How about 50%? What about 100%? And what would it mean to you, if he demonstrated to you that he was 100% good? For example, would getting a job demonstrate to you that he was 100% good? Supposing God was 100% good (and he is) and he allowed you to go without a job for 3 months straight. Would God still be 100% good in your sight? Why or why not?
Do you ever feel like God let you down? In your view, did God ever set you up with a set of expectations that never came to pass? Would you say God failed you? I know people have failed you, but did God ever fail you? Are you able to differentiate the difference between God failing you and people failing you? What does it mean when people fail you? Does it mean God has failed you? Are you angry at God? Do you feel like someone might look at you and laugh at you because of your failures?
Did you ever “miss the cue” that God wanted to give you, or that God did give you, and you felt ashamed or embarrassed by that? Did you wish that you had “not missed the cue”? Do you think that God gave you an opportunity that you failed to grab? Did you frankly, “miss it”? Do you think God is angry at you for “missing it” or for “missing the mark”? Do you have a view that God is standing over you, even at this very time, and he is holding some type of stick over you, and he is laughing at, or even taunting you? Do you think that God laughs at you, generally speaking? Do you think God is making fun of you, ever? Do you think God glories in your demise? Do you think God has good thoughts towards you, or evil thoughts? Do you think God has any plan at all for you life? What if “all hell” were to suddenly “break loose” in your life at this very instant? What would that signify to you? That God was good, or that God was bad? Do you think that God would allow some evil to befall you, in order to test you, in order to make you stronger? Is God praying for you? Does he care at all for you? Do you feel like you are some worthless piece of trash that God could not care less about? What is going on in that brain of yours? Who is controlling it? Who are you allowing to control it? What type of thoughts do you have of God, and where are you getting your information from, concerning the character of God? Is he good, or what? So many people simply do not know, or do not understand, the character of God! And the funny thing is, God actually wants people to know. But why do people (including myself) often think incorrect thoughts concerning God?
Drops of Blood
Let’s now move a little closer to the Bible, and ask ourselves a few questions in relation to what we find in it. For example, how could it be that Jesus could sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane (signifying he was under extreme and dire stress) and God the father could still love him unconditionally, with an everlasting love? Do you get the point here? Jesus really suffered. And I’m not even talking about the cross yet. He suffered, and bled, and died, and yet God the father really loved him. We know from the Bible that God the father loved him. Jesus was certainly loved of the father. There is no doubt about that.
Do you feel despised by others when things seem to go wrong? Do you treat your life as a “failure”? Now, I want you to think back to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Was he a failure, praying there, on his knees, with drops of blood coming down from his face? This denotes the most extreme type of pressure, which even causes your blood vessels to burst. It means that the tension, and the pressure, he was facing, was dire — it was extreme. It was to the most extreme possible. It does not get any more extreme than that. How do you feel in response to this? Do you feel like Jesus might have been a failure? How do you feel right now? Are you sweating drops of blood? Jesus did.
How do you feel about what others think of you? (I know this is a big one.) Do you feel like others might be laughing at your failure? How do you feel when you fail, anyway? Are you able to actually receive God’s forgiveness when you fail? You see, if you cannot, it’s going to really mess things up considerably in your life. That’s because you are always going to be worried about what others think. That will really “play” with your head. It will be a head game that will hit you hard. It will try to wrap itself around you, and suck the life blood out of you.
He Hates Me!
I have a friend, he is a pastor, and I pretty much think he hates me. Sometimes, I think, “Yes, I am pretty much a failure in certain areas. I know he judges me. I know that he does not understand me. I know that I stand condemned in his presence. There is basically nothing I can do about it. He thinks this way about me. He will always think this way about me. I might as well just ‘suck it up’.” And I’ve just been very honest with you. I’ve told you the truth. How do you think I’m supposed to survive, with a man having thoughts like that about me? Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe I’m right. But everything I see and experience about that pastor, says that I am right. I did not say I am right. But based on what I see, it’s really hard to come to any other conclusion. Now what can I do? Can I change that pastor’s mind? Maybe. Maybe I can work really hard to try and change his mind. Maybe I can have a frank discussion with him (what would it prove or accomplish, it might somehow change his mind, and it might somehow not). The pastor is set in his ways and has shown such incredible bias towards me. So basically, I feel I do not have much chance in his presence. I will simply have to accept the fact that I am hated or despised by one person. Is this something that should determine my life, or the outcome of what will happen in my life for the next twenty years? How will I ever get around this?
The Character of God
Here, I am trying to give you reasons to think about what you believe about God and about his character. I’m trying to help you, as a Christian, to “get over the hurdle” about what others think about you, and focus solely on what God himself thinks of you. If you are a Christian, and the Spirit of God lives inside of you, what does God think of you? The Bible talks about there being “no condemnation” for those who are in Christ Jesus (see Romans 8:1). What do you think about that? Let me challenge you even further, and mention that Paul wrote that Peter “stood condemned” (see Galatians 2:11) because of something he was practicing. What? There is no condemnation, and yet Peter stood condemned? You see, I didn’t promise that reading this would be easy. But I am trying to stretch your understanding of who God is, and what he approves of, and what it means to be eternally loved by the father.
If you love Jesus, and the Spirit of Christ lives inside of you, then you are eternally loved by God, and nothing can separate you from his love. That is a fact (read Romans 8:31-39). However, being a human being, you are not always going to feel that way. You are going to experience some trials. You might feel hated. You might feel condemned. You might “be condemned” on account of something you are practicing, or believing, like Peter was. But from an eternal perspective, no, you are not condemned — if you will just be sensitive to the Spirit of God. There were Christians who were not sensitive to the Spirit of God, and they died (see 1 Corinthians 11:30-31). Could it really be? Yes. We need to be careful we do not create for ourselves a “false theology” in which we paint a picture of God as being “so good” that he would never allow any harm to befall us, or that he would never judge us in any way. It’s not true. Because of his good nature, he is compelled to judge sin. Otherwise, it would not say, to Christians,
“Therefore lift up the hands that hang down and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that which is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.” (Hebrews 12:12-13)
This passage tells us that if we do the wrong things (and are not sensitive to the voice of God), then we may really suffer for it. It’s not that God wants us to suffer, but it is the natural consequence of doing the wrong things. Some view God as “he would never hurt a flea” and others view God as “he is throwing firebrands at me and wants me to fail.” I think neither is true. God may allow evil to befall us for our strengthening (as was the case of Joseph, who was sold into slavery, see Genesis 37:18-36). There also may be some really undesirable things at work in us, that we are frankly ignoring, and which need some serious attention. So God may bring discipline to us. Either way, God is a good God!
But in hell, is God still a good God? I really want you to think, so I am stretching you in this write-up. I’m not sugar-coating who God is, but I’m being honest, in order to challenge you, and in order to maximize God’s investment in your life, which is substantial (because Jesus died for you).
The Parable of the Talents
It’s time now that we considered three men. One was given one talent, the other two talents, and the other five talents (see Matthew 25:14-30). The one who was given two talents made two talents more. The one who was given five talents made five talents more. Both were very blessed by their master, and commended! They enjoyed making those talents for their master. They thought well of their master. They knew they would be rewarded. All this worked together for the good, and helped them to accomplish great things.
But now, let us think about the man who was given just one talent. It does not matter how many talents he was given. That is not the point of the story. We are each given different skills and talents in life. Some are given more, and some are given less. It seems like some people are “superstars” whereas other people are dragging their heels in the dust (by comparison). But think of the story of the tortoise and the hare. The hare was really fast, and the tortoise was really slow. But the tortoise, through perseverance, accomplished more than the hare, who became proud. And so it is with many people. Those who have been given less often accomplish more than those who have been given more. It is not about how much you have been given, but about what you do with what you have been given.
When the master asked the man who had been given the single talent what he did with his talent, he replied,
“Lord, I knew you that you are a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter” (see Matthew 25:24).
This denotes the picture he had of his master. The master in the story represents God. What is the picture you have of God? Is he “hard”? Is he “demanding”? If you feel that God is “hard” or “demanding,” then you have a wrong picture of God. God is not “hard” or “demanding,” but people are! Who is the evil task-master? Is it God or Satan? It is not God, but Satan! I really need you to think about this. God is not an “evil taskmaster.” Can you imagine, you, with your good heart, being confused with someone who is evil? Now think of God, how he must feel, when he is accused of being evil. Some people resist God, saying, “I would never serve a God like that!” They deliberately choose to assume the worst about God. Well, he is not like that. The man who was given the one talent erred, because he chose to think of his master as being “evil” or “hard” or “demanding.” I am very much like that man! I have done the same thing, too! I have thought of God as being “hard” or “demanding” — even when I have thought I was not thinking of him in that way. I have erred terribly. O, well, I guess there is forgiveness. Is there not? O father, will you please forgive me?
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
The Syrophenician woman
Now, there is one more story I want to cover. This is the story of the Syrophenician woman (she was a Canaanite and you can find her story in Mark 7:25-30 and Matthew 15:21-28). This woman approached Jesus, and asked him to please heal her daughter, who was demonized. This woman actually knew her daughter was demonized, unlike many people today, who would never confess to such a thing. At any rate, she asked Jesus, and Jesus responded to this “non-Jew” by saying,
“It is not appropriate to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” (See Matthew 15:26)
Jesus was calling her a “dog”. Is that a good thing? It does not sound too complimentary to me. This answer could have given this woman every reason to suddenly “turn away” and reject God and Jesus forever. But what did she choose to do? Jesus’s answer was a test of her faith, because the Bible says that God tests our hearts (see Proverbs 17:3, Jeremiah 17:10, and 1 Thessalonians 2:4).
Would she believe the lie that God was a “hard” and “demanding” God? Or would she choose to believe the truth? Jesus said that the truth would set you free (see John 8:32). If she chose to believe the truth, she would be blessed. But if she chose to believe the lie, she and her family would remain cursed. Think about that.
This woman chose wisely. She said,
“Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” (See Matthew 15:27)
Jesus responded by saying that because of this answer, her daughter was healed. And this woman was a Canaanite, not a Jew. She was a “dog” and not a “child” according to the flesh, but by faith, she was indeed a child of Abraham. God rewarded her for that — for her faith which was so evident.
It will take testing, sometimes, to prove who you really are. Are you someone who has faith to believe that God is good, in the midst of your circumstances? Or, are you like that man, who was given the one talent, who chose to believe that his master was a “hard” and “demanding” man? You know, he did not get rewarded at all. He was cast,
“into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (see Matthew 24:30).
I want you to think about that. And I want you to think about what you are really choosing to believe about the nature of God.
Is God good? Or is God not? I choose to believe that God is a good, good, father. And because of that, I am choosing to be rewarded for that, as well.
*The printable tract is provided as a PDF document that you can easily print on any letter-sized paper. Print the page (on both sides). If your printer cannot print both sides, simply print on one side, then feed the paper back in, and print on the other. Then, simply fold the page three times in half. This tract is small (2.75″ x 4.25″ — a bit larger than a business card) and convenient for responsible free distribution.