The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Exodus 34:6
My interview guest politely answered my questions. I had a feeling, though, that something lurked beneath our interaction. A passing comment brought it out.
“You’re inspiring thousands of people,” I said.
“Not thousands,” he muttered. “Millions.”
And as if pitying my ignorance, my guest reminded me of his credentials—the titles he held, the things he’d achieved, the magazine he’d graced. It was an awkward moment.
Ever since that experience, I’ve been struck by how God revealed Himself to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:5–7). Here was the Creator of the cosmos and Judge of humanity, but God didn’t use His titles. Here was the Maker of 100 billion galaxies, but such feats weren’t mentioned either. Instead, God introduced Himself as “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (v. 6). When He reveals who He is, it isn’t His titles or achievements He lists but the kind of character He has.
As people made in God’s image and called to follow His example (Genesis 1:27; Ephesians 5:1–2), this is profound. Achievement is good, titles have their place, but what really matters is how compassionate, gracious, and loving we’re becoming.
Like that interview guest, we too can base our significance on our achievements. I have. But our God has modeled what true success is—not what’s written on our business cards and resumés, but how we’re becoming like Him.
How tempted are you to base your significance on your accomplishments? What aspect of God’s character needs to grow in you today?
Spirit of God, make me compassionate, gracious, patient, and loving!
Moses was up on the mountain forty days and nights communing with God and receiving the law, which was to regulate the covenantal relationship He had with the Israelites (Exodus 24:18; 31:18). But down in the camp the people worshiped the golden calf and thereby broke the covenant. This severing was symbolized when Moses broke the two tablets containing God’s law (32:19). Moses interceded and asked Him to forgive the people for their sin and not to abandon them (vv. 31–32; 33:12–17). Although God forgave the Israelites, He also meted out discipline (32:31–35). In chapter 34, the law is reissued and the covenant renewed (v. 1). God also gave the people a self-revelation of who He is: compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, loving, faithful, forgiving, and just (vv. 6–7).