by Kelsey McKay
God reveals Himself as One who can be fully trusted. He exhibits complete integrity in all He says and promises; consequently His people are to have complete confidence in His promises concerning them. Studying the faithfulness of God will bring about spiritual stability and confidence in our daily walk with God.
In the Old Testament the verb “to love” and its related words cover the full range of meanings. The English word “love” includes love for God and the love God has for us. The Old Testament also uses the Hebrew word “chesed” specifically for the covenant love the Lord has for us, referring to His steadfastness or loyalty to us.
In the New Testament the primary Greek verbs expressing the concept of love are “aeapao” loving as an act of will, and “phileo, loving as a response to a person or object. In the synoptic Gospels, one notes that the primary use of the word “love” is with regard to the great commandment. Love is a possibility only because we as believers have responded in faith to God’s saving act in the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
In the Old Testament God appears frequently in the role of “judge of all the earth” or more generally the “God of justice”. Judgment implies not only an unbiased weighing of good and evil, but is also vigorous action against evil. It is because of this understanding that the people of God are summoned to exercise judgment in turn. It is a strongly personal notion, closely linked to God’s characteristics of mercy, loving kindness, righteousness and truth.
The New Testament continues to stress judgment as part of God’s nature and essential activity. His judgments are not confined to the future but are already at work in the present age. Judgment is associated even now with Christ, who exercises the Fathers judgments.
Just as strong as the emphasis on judgment is the Bible’s recognition of God’s mercy. By His grace God extends help and forgiveness to sinners who deserve only condemnation, as well as practical help to those who are suffering under life’s burdens. God shows compassion toward those who have broken His law, although mercy is selectively bestowed upon the undeserving. God’s mercy extends beyond withheld punishment to include the blessings of salvation.
Jesus showed mercy toward the afflicted when He healed them, as in the case of the blind men and lepers. Jesus was modeling the behavior He expects from His follower: Because God is merciful, He expects us to be merciful as well.