A God All-Gracious
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” (Exodus 34:6–7)
When God passed before Moses, he proclaimed his name and then spoke of his own character. The range of words which he used are remarkable: “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin”.
A basic theme of the Bible is God is holy, and we are not. When we look at the Ten Commandments, who can really say they have kept all ten? I suspect that none reading this would have committed murder, but as you go through the list it all gets a bit close to the bone. Who has really kept the Sabbath each and every week, not working? Has anyone not been a bit envious of their neighbour at times? This is not to say that we are the worst, but simply that we are not perfect. And as we are reminded in James 2:10 “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it”.
The point of all this is not to depress you, but to help you understand what overwhelming mercy we find in God. The fact that he sent his only Son so that we might be reconciled back to him is sheer grace. The fact that Jesus’s death has washed away those sins which we commit is abundant mercy. The fact that he sticks with us is great patience indeed. That he forgives “iniquity and transgression and sin” is something to be cherished.
Our love of God is a response to his grace, and our desire to live according to his commands comes from deep gratitude. Well we might sing with the old hymnist”
Oh, to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee:
prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it;
seal it for thy courts above.