When I was a very little girl, I sat in my grandmother’s Sunday School class.  There, I learned that God was a god who loves.  I learned that He was trustworthy and good.  He could be counted on for help in time of need.  I was in awe of God, certain that He was all powerful and could do all things, and that all He did would be for my good.

Since I attended many churches throughout my growing up years, it is not surprising that I would discover that not everyone knows the God of love that I had been taught.  In one such encounter, I sat under a preacher who taught me that God is a god of judgment and condemnation, one who punishes and condemns.  It was a revival meeting and our first Sunday at a new church.  During the Sunday School hour, our class went to the auditorium to hear the preaching, sitting as a class, apart from our families. Not understanding the message, I became fearful.  In fact, I was hysterical during the invitation at the end, fearing that because my sin was so great, I was about to die.  My mother was horrified, not knowing what was wrong, and not sure what to do to help me as she sat in her seat.  No, I wasn’t about to be executed, but I didn’t know it at the time!  In hindsight I realize that preacher left off a very important part of the salvation message–love.  God loves us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His Son Jesus for us.  Through Jesus’ death, we could be forgiven from our sin because Jesus took our punishment for us.  God is a god of justice AND love.

I am thankful that He saved me from the penalty of death that my sin earns me.  My thanks is expressed through my obedience, or at least, my willingness to obey Him.  I want to be on God’s side!  I don’t want to bring shame or dishonor to Him.  He is my Lord and my Savior.  I want His favor and good will. 

So the question arises, “How do I get on God’s good side?”  To gain His favor I must love what God loves and hate what God hates. 

What does God love?

He loves His children; those who are called by His name.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” Ephesians 2:4-6

He loves justice. 

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes:  but the Lord pondereth the hearts.  To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.”  Proverbs 21:2-4

He loves meekness.

“But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” 1 Peter 3:4

What does God hate?

He hates unbelief. 

“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Hebrews 4:1-2

He hates ungodliness.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;” Romans 1:18

He hates lying, deceit, and pride.

“These six things doth the Lord hate:  yea, seven are an abomination unto him:  a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”  Proverbs 6:16-19

These are only a few things to consider as you align yourself with God.  Allow Him to build your spiritual character.  As you seek Him and His righteousness, you will grow and develop into the person He wants you to be.  Make yourself available for His molding and shaping, then trust Him for the process and the outcome. Take heart, you are an uncompleted work, but there is hope for improvement!

Linda is an inspirational writer and photographer. Her writing has been published in Relate.com, Union Gospel Press, Gospel Blog, Frontline, Dollar Stretcher, Discipleship Journal - DJ Plus, At the Center magazine, Simple Joy, Cross & Quill, Hot Cars, and others. Linda's story "Stretched to My Limit" about dealing with dementia was featured in "Stolen Moments" by Elizabeth Bezant. Linda's first non-fiction book was "Homeschooling: The Modern Day One Room Schoolhouse." In it, she shares her experience as a homeschooling mom, explaining the basic principles of homeschooling for the beginner. She successfully completed her first fiction novel through Chris Baty's 2006 National Novel Writing Course (NaNoWriMo). Linda also writes inspirational articles on her Words of Encouragement Blog. Enjoy Linda's photos at Words of Encouragement Designs.

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