Meditate on His beautiful attributes
& on His relationship with His saints
Sometimes we love a certain person for a particular attribute that attracts us, such as being decent, cheerful, helpful, clever, or of strong personality. If one attribute makes us love somebody, how much rather we should love God with all His beautiful attributes with limitless perfection!
No doubt whenever we meditate on any of God’s indescribable attributes, we will certainly love Him.
I do not mean those attributes confined to Him, such as His being Eternal, Creator, Self-existent, Omnipresent, beyond time; Limitless, Incomprehensible, knowing even the hidden things, searching the hearts and minds… etc., for these are related to the Divine Essence.
What I mean is the attributes which some human beings do likewise have, but with God they are perfect and unlimited.
For instance God is beautiful, powerful, wise, loving, merciful, and longsuffering, and some people have such attributes as well. However, with God they are perfect and beyond our understanding.
Therefore the Church teaches us to meditate on God’s attributes.
This appears in many parts of the Divine Liturgy, especially that of St. Gregory: “You who are ever present and ever lasting… the Invisible, the Boundless, Beginning less, Eternal… Limitless… who the invisible praise and the visible worship; thousands of thousands stand before You, and ten thousands of ten thousands serve You.”
Meditation on God’s greatness makes us glorify Him, and meditation on His care for us in spite of His glory makes us love Him.
So many are the meditations of David the Prophet on God’s attributes and works in the Psalms, as in (Ps 103: 8, 6) : “The Lord is merciful and gracious,” “The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.” We use such meditations in our praises every morning, so our love for Him increases.
Also in the concluding prayer of each Hour of the “Agpeya” we say, “You who are all the time and at every hour, in heaven and on earth, is worshipped and glorified… Christ our Good God, the Longsuffering, all merciful and bountiful in compassion, who loves the righteous and have mercy upon the sinners of whom I am first, who does not will that the sinner dies but that he returns and lives…”
Similar meditations on God’s attributes represent a prominent factor in the prayers of the fathers and prophets included in the Holy Scripture.
You likewise can take one attribute every now and then and meditate on it. Take for instance God’s forgiveness and remission of sins: See in the case of the people of Nineveh, in spite of the punishment He wanted to inflict upon them, how He forgave them when they fasted and repented! How He called that city “great” though its people knew not their right from their left, and He had previously commanded Jonah to cry out against them (Jon 4: 11; 3: 4).
You will certainly love God if you meditate on His loving and forgiving heart.
In a few moments He forgave the sinful woman who wet His feet with her tears (Lk 7: 47), and the woman who was caught in the very act (Jn 8: 11) and said to her, “Neither do I condemn you”, and forgave the Samaritan woman who had five husbands, and He even commended her for saying the truth (Jn 4: 18). He forgave Zaccharus and went into his house in spite of the grumbling of the people that He had gone to be a guest with a man who was a sinner! He even defended him and said, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham.” (Lk 19: 5-10).
Time is lacking if we want to speak about the Lord’s forgiveness throughout the church history, as for instance His forgiveness to Augustine, Moses the Black, Mary the Copt, Pelagia, Martha, Justine the Magician, Irianus the Governor of Ensena, and the soldier who stabled Him.
The Lord did not only forgive those and many others, but He also lifted them high up. He made of Augustine a bishop and a theologian prominent in commentaries and meditation, and of Moses a great saint, priest and father of the monks. He made Mary the Copt an anchorite whose blessing was sought by priest Zoseima; Justin the Magician a great bishop; and Irianus the persecutor of Christianity a mastyr!
Shall we not then love Him and love His way of forgiveness? He blots out our sins, no more remembers them nor impute them against us!
See How He immediately forgave the thief on His right who repented, and said, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Lk 23: 43)! He forgave Saul of Tarsus and called him to be a chosen vessel of Him to bear His name before Gentiles (Acts 9). He says, “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more,” “None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him” (Jer 31: 34; Ezek 18: 22) Therefore the Psalmist sings saying, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity.” (Ps 32: 1,2; Rom 4: 7,8)
How deep is this kindness that melts the heart of a repenting person! The more God forgives, the more one loves Him (Lk 7: 47). The Scripture further says, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out:” (Acts 3: 19) And the psalmist says, “According to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions… Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Ps 51) Such wonderful forgiveness makes a repenting person live the joy of salvation from sin and punishment, or rather be overwhelmed with love for God.
Indeed God deserves all such love, for He is compassionate and forgiving.
We offend Him, but He blots out our offence and washes it to be whiter than snow! As far as the east is from the west, so far He removed our transgressions from us (Ps 103: 12). He laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isa 53: 6). He is a Good God; He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities (Ps 103: 10). If we live upright at present He will not impute against us our whole sinful past!
How He defends His children is also amazing!
• When our father Abraham sinned, and out of fear said that Sarah was his sister and Abimelech was going to take her as a wife the Lord interfered and defended Abraham and Sarah, saying to Abimeleck in a dream, “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife… restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live!” (Gen 20: 2-7) How amazing! If you ask the Lord why did He do that, He will say: Abraham is My beloved. He sinned because of weakness, not deviation. I am sure of the purity of his heart, so I defended him!
• Again when David sinned and the Lord punished him, His trust continued even after David’s death. He kept for him his honor; for when He decided to tear the kingdom away from Solomon as a punishment He said to him, “Nevertheless I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David… However I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David!” (1 kgs 11: 12, 13).
• In the same way God defended Job in spite of his previous talk for which Elihu rebuked him and the Lord Himself rebuked him, saying, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38: 1, 2) But when Job humbled himself in dust and ashes the Lord defended him and blamed Job’s three friends who had hurt his feelings, saying to them, “You have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly.” (Job 42: 6-8)
• The Lord similarly defended Moses when he married the Ethiopian woman.
When Miriam and Aaron spoke against him the Lord rebuked them and lifted up Moses’ face. He said to them, “If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face… why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?” (Num 12: 1-8) And He struck Miriam with leprosy and she was shut out of the camp.
• The Lord did not only defend those prophets, but He also defended people like the woman who poured the fragrant oil on His head. When His disciples were indignant, saying, “Why this waste?” He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me… for My burial… wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” (Mt 26: 7-13)
The Lord defends those who have no one to defend them.
He defended Zacchaeus the tax-collector (Lk 19) as well as many other tax-collectors and sinners. He defended the Samaritans and mentioned the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 18: 14). He defended the children on the Palm Sunday, and defended His crucifiers (Lk 23: 34).
Was that all about God’s beautiful attributes and meditation on them? Of course not. These are mere examples.
Dear reader, you can follow this example and meditate on Good’s beautiful attributes one by one. Take them as nourishment for your spirit and a means leading to God’s love. May the Lord guide your meditations on Him!