Monthly Archives: June 2021

An Imperfect God?

I recently saw a short discussion on Twitter and it got me thinking.

It went like this:

“The God of the bible is not the same as the god of the Quran.”

“god [sic] mentioned in the bible [sic] depicts him to be imperfect, while The God depicted in the Quran is absolutely perfect.”

“Imperfect how? And where?”

“For starters, 1 Samuel 15:11.”

1 Samuel 15:11 states (ESV): “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.”

Does this suggest that if God expresses regret over something he did, would that mean he’s admitting to making a mistake and is therefore imperfect? That’s certainly what the Twitterite above is implying.

But is he correct?

We must first go to what “regret” means:

According to Mirriam-Webster, regret (verb) is defined as: 1(a): to mourn the loss or death of; 1(b): to miss very much; 2: to be very sorry for.

So the question is, how is “regret” defined in the above passage? Was God expressing sorrow (first definition) over Saul’s faithlessness, or stating he had made a mistake (2nd definition)?

Let’s turn to the Hebrew term: נָחַם pronounced naw-kham’.

Strong’s and NAS Exhaustive Concordance define it as “to be sorry, console oneself.”

Brown-Driver-Briggs goes even further and defines the word per passage in the Old Testament. For 1 Samuel 15:11, regret is defined as “to be sorry, rue, suffer grief, repent, of one’s own doings.”

If we are to trust the last one, God is indeed sorry for or repentant of appointing Saul king—admitting he’d made a mistake.

Now that we’re back to square one, I ask again: is God expressing regret, admitting that he’s imperfect? Is it truly impossible for a perfect God to have regrets? Or is that assumption incorrect?

I’ve heard people say, “Scripture interprets scripture.” If one finds a contradiction, such as 1 Samuel stating that God is admitting imperfection, whereas other verses show God to be perfect (such as in 2 Samuel 22:31 & Matthew 5:48), one must look deeper.

The first step is to read the entire chapter to discover the circumstances as well as its context and audience.

In this case, the answer over the definition of “regret” is made clearer in verse 29: “And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.”

That says to me that God is expressing sorrow over Saul defying his word, not admitting to a mistake derived from imperfection.

What do you think?

Ill Will

I normally don’t hold grudges. It’s not in my nature. Doing so doesn’t necessarily hurt the person I’m angry at, but it always hurts me. Holding on to anger is akin to living in the past, preventing me from enjoying the present and looking forward to the future.

Yet that’s exactly what I’m doing. I mentioned a few months back about some people I work with acting in an unprofessional manner, made worse by the fact I still have to work with them and still be professional when I want to be anything but.

I can’t wait for the day I no longer have to interact or work with any of them. Ever. Again.

In short, while I may never outwardly show my contempt as much as may want to, I look forward to, at the very least, giving them my indifference.

As of now, though, my attitude is so sour, I find myself wishing—praying even—for them to fail at everything they do. I want others to see what I see and abandon them. I want their reputation to take such a spectacular nose-dive, no one else will ever want to work with them, either.

I know what you’re thinking: That’s not very Christ-like of me. After all, does not God love them as much as he loves me? Does God hold his mercy and grace back simply because this piddly little human is angry? The idea is utter foolishness when seen from that perspective, isn’t it?

While my heart is a rabid animal gnawing at the bars of its cage, growling to be let loose to rip apart and devour those who hurt me, my brain is holding the door closed, whispering calm. Reminding my heart that grace, mercy, and forgiveness are always the best roads to travel.

God never wishes me ill will no matter what I’ve done, so I can do no less.

Nor am I supposed to wait until I no longer have to deal with someone in order to do so. God wants us to forgive when it matters most, because he forgives us when it matters most.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” ~ Ephesians 4:29-32