Billy Graham: Caricature or Clear Picture

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For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18

“We must understand that the Lord is not only tender and merciful and full of compassion, but He is also the God of justice, holiness, and wrath.

Many Christians have a caricature of God. They do not see God in all of His wholeness. We glibly quote John 3:16, but we forget to quote the following verses: “he who does not believe has been judged already” (v. 18 NASB).

Compassion is not complete in itself, but must be accompanied by inflexible justice and wrath against sin and a desire for holiness.

What stirs God most is not physical suffering but sin. All too often we are more afraid of physical pain than of moral wrong. The cross is the standing evidence of the fact that holiness is a principle for which God would die.

God cannot clear the guilty until atonement is made. Mercy is what we need and that is what we receive at the foot of the cross.”

Billy Graham in Unto the Hills: A Daily Devotional (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010) reading for 23 April.

I don’t know about you, but when I read this post, I read it again, and then sat and confessed. Sometimes I function with a caricature rather than a clear picture of God in my mind. I am learning more about compassion than I bargained for.

Ponder the three points. Inflexible justice means that no one gets a free pass; all are equal at the foot of the cross. Wrath against sin means that it must be dealt with, and we could not do it on our own so God did it for us. A desire for holiness drives us to be people of mercy and compassion.

Father in heaven, help us have a fear of moral wrong over pain. Holy Spirit, empower us to extend mercy to those around us rather than judgment. Jesus, grow generous compassion in each of us so we look like You to the watching world. In Your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.