God’s Number One Characteristic

“The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6b NKJV).

God’s number one characteristic in the Bible isn’t his sovereignty, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, anger, or justice.

It’s his mercy.

The world wants us to portray God as someone who is completely focused upon judgment. But God describes himself first and foremost as a God of mercy.

When God revealed his glory to Moses, he said, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6b NKJV).

Mercy is the first characteristic God uses to define himself in the Bible. It must be the most important.

Quite simply, mercy is love in action. It has two distinct parts. Webster’s Dictionary defines mercy two ways, as “refraining from harm or punishment” and as “unexpected kindness.” God wants us to do both. The forgiving side is refraining from punishment. And the compassionate side is going the extra mile to help somebody with unexpected kindness. We need to demonstrate both.

It’s more than just an attitude. It’s a lifestyle.

Talk It Over

  • Why do you think the world tends to describe God using characteristics other than mercy (his justice, his power, etc.)?
  • If God’s number one characteristic is mercy, how does that impact our understanding of how God wants us to live and the people God wants us to become?
  • Do you find it easier to demonstrate the forgiving side or the compassionate side of mercy? Why?

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