How does one change his mind from hiding from God to running to God? Well, today’s Scripture tells us that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”
The man with leprosy in Matthew 8 had enough faith to come out of his hiding place and head straight for Jesus because of the gracious words he had heard from Jesus. If our Lord had preached a hellfire-and-brimstone message of condemnation, do you think the man would have dared to approach Him for healing? Of course not. He would have walked away fearful of punishment, and feeling more condemned and hopeless than ever. But because he heard words of grace—how God wanted to be a loving Father to him and provide for all his needs—faith arose in his heart, giving him the confidence to approach the Lord Jesus for his miracle.
My dear friend, what you hear about God is of utmost importance. It can mean the difference between receiving your miracle and remaining where you are in your lack or bondage. It can draw you close to God, or drive you further away from Him. Faith comes by hearing, but fear also comes by hearing. If you’ve been hearing about a God Who is mostly angry and out to get you for your sins, how can you have faith to look to Him for help? If you’ve been hearing that He gives people (even believers) sicknesses and punishes them with horrible accidents for their sins, how can you look to Him for healing? If you’ve been hearing that He wants you and your family in poverty to keep you humble, how can you believe Him for financial breakthroughs or deliverance from mounting debts? How can you possibly trust God for anything good to happen to you if all you’ve been hearing are sermons that make you feel more condemned and fearful of His judgment?
It’s sad, but the things I’ve just mentioned are the very things people are hearing about God. Just look at the movies made about God today—God is always portrayed as mean, judgmental, petulant, destructive, and even murderous! How they’ve perverted Who God really is—“compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” (Psalm 103:8)! Don’t misunderstand me. God does have anger, but the Bible never defines God as wrath; it defines God as love (see 1 John 4:8, 16). Did our Lord Jesus ever condemn the prostitutes and tax collectors, those despised and rejected by society? No, He was a friend of sinners! Did He ever take away from the poor, or inflict the sick with more diseases? No, He fed a hungry multitude with twelve baskets full of leftovers and healed everyone who sought Him for healing wherever He went!
The Bible tells us that Jesus “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38, emphasis mine). What does that tell us? God wants to do good, not evil, to us! If this were not true, God would not have been with Jesus, backing Him up. Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father… Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works” (John 14:9–10). If you want to know what God is really like (and not what man portrays Him to be), look at Jesus in the Gospels. He is God’s will in action, and He went about doing good—saving, delivering, healing, restoring, providing, guiding, and loving the unlovable. That’s our God!