When you think about God, what are the images that tend to come to mind? Do you see the Compassionate Father who would sacrifice everything out of love for you? Do you see the Stern Judge who is ready to punish you for straying from His way? Do you see the Master Discipler who is always calling you into deeper levels of faith and obedience? And what difference would it make if “What You See” is “What You Get” (WYSIWYG)?
In today’s lesson from the psalms (Psalm 18), I ran across these words:
To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
You save the humble
but bring low those whose eyes are haughty. (verses 25-27)
Under normal circumstances, I’m not sure that these words would have caught my attention. But in the process of studying for my message this Sunday, I ran across a reflection that makes these verses stand out. Sunday’s sermon will focus on “The Parable of the Talents” found in Matthew 25:14-30, in which a master gives extraordinary riches to three servants — two of whom steward them productively, and one of whom buries them in the ground. This third servant defends his actions, citing his understanding of the master’s character: “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground” (Mt. 25:24-25). And in commenting on this passage, a pastor named David Lose has this to say:
The master’s response might be a case of a self-fulfilling prophecy, as he decides to act in just the way the third servant has characterized him. And here’s the thing: I wonder how often this happens in our relationship with God. We imagine God primarily as an enforcer of rules, and we get hung up by the legalism of religion. We visualize God as stern and prone to punishment, and we come to believe that everything bad in our lives is punishment from God. We see God as arbitrary and capricious, and that’s what we experience, a fickle and unsympathetic God who meets our expectations. On the other hand, when we view God primarily in terms of grace, we are surprised and uplifted by the numerous gifts and moments of grace we experience all around us. And when we imagine God to be a God of love, we find it far easier to experience God’s love in our own lives and to share it with others.
What you see, all too often, is just what you get. And so perhaps this parable is inviting us to examine closely the pictures of God I believe we each carry around inside of us.
David J. Lose (http://www.davidlose.net/2014/11/pentecost-23-a/)
A. W. Tozer once said:
May we think about God rightly today; and may our everything thought of Him lead us to love Him more fully with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.