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Do you want more and more of God’s kindness and peace? Then learn to know him better and better. For as you know him better, he will give you, through his great power, everything you need for living a truly good life: he even shares his own glory and his own goodness with us! 

2 Peter 1:2-3 TLB

To experience the kindness, peace, and life-changing power of God, we have to keep getting to know him better and better.

That means we can’t assume we already know who he is. 

When we don’t know someone very well, it’s easy to mistrust them. We interpret their actions through the lens of our own feelings instead of understanding where they are coming from. I experienced this in my relationship with my dad, which helps me understand how it can happen in my relationship with God.

I developed a negative view of my dad growing up. I really didn’t know him well, so I interpreted everything he did through a lens of self-centeredness. He would ask how my schoolwork was going, and I would think he was never happy with me, impossible to please, and too harsh. As a result of these negative thoughts, our relationship was distant. I didn’t want to talk to my dad or let him into my life. 

It wasn’t until my dad was diagnosed with cancer during my college years that I decided to spend as much time as I could with him. We started going on walks together every time I came home on school breaks, and I learned things that completely changed the way I saw him.

We can’t assume we already know who God is. 

On one of our walks, I told my dad about my friends, my college experiences, and how I had studied the Bible and became a Christian. As I told him how God had helped me overcome my resentment and selfishness in relationships, my dad began sharing about his own life. He told me what it was like growing up in Inchon, Korea during the Korean War. I learned that his childhood had been marked by scarcity and uncertainty, and that he had later served in the Korean Army as a military journalist and liaison with US military forces. 

My view of my dad completely changed as I listened to him. The bitterness, pride, and entitlement in my heart  gave way to understanding, humility, and respect. Nothing in his personality had changed on this one walk, but my heart did. This was a turning point for us, and our relationship went from a distant co-existence to a deep attachment.

Just as my negative view of my dad made our relationship distant, a negative view of God will distance us from him. If we think that God is unfair, impossible to please, unreasonable, or uncaring, we won’t want to talk to him or be close to him. That’s why it’s important to regularly search our hearts and make sure our view of God is healthy.

In this devotional, we’ll learn to completely change a negative view of God by opening our hearts and letting the Bible change our minds about who God is. 

Honest hearts see God more clearly

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

Matthew 5:8 NIV

Pure hearts see God clearly. But sins like jealousy, lust, and bitterness act like lenses of darkness over our hearts. They stop us from seeing God as he really is in the Scriptures, just as the condition of my heart affected my view of my dad. We need to purify – or clean out – our hearts so we can truly see God.

I remember very clearly one of the times that jealousy and bitterness tainted my view of God. I was having lunch with an old friend while visiting my hometown, and he shared that he was advancing in his career, meeting a lot of new people, and traveling to all kinds of cool places. He had also just bought a new car and a new house. Initially I was happy for him … but then I started feeling jealous. 

I didn’t want to admit it, but my bitter envy was making me feel like God was unfair. I was upset because I felt I had worked harder than my friend had, yet I didn’t get the ease and benefits he appeared to enjoy. I started doubting whether I had made the right decision to pursue God and become a Christian instead of devoting my life to my own ambitions. 

I couldn’t resolve these feelings on my own, and eventually I started sharing them with God and my wife. Opening up about my thoughts, feelings, and sins was an important step in purifying or clearing out my heart; it softened me and made me more receptive to God’s perspective in his Word. Then I read this passage:

“Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property— along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”

Mark 10:29-31 NLT

I gathered from this that when we prioritize God by letting go of our selfish ambitions and desires, he will enrich our lives with a hundred times more than anything we gave up.  

I started reflecting on how much God had moved in my life. He had relieved all my guilt and restored relationships with family and friends in ways I didn’t deserve. He had given me back a relationship with my dad and helped my dad become a Christian before he died of cancer. God had also given me an incredible purpose for my life so that I could change other people’s lives and change the world for the better instead of just building a life for myself. 

I also started realizing that my relationship with God had become self-centered; it was all about what I wanted and what I could get back from God rather than what I loved about him and what I was grateful for. 

No one can deny it–God is really good to Israel and to all those with pure hearts. But I nearly missed seeing it for myself. Here’s my story: I came so close to missing the way. I was stumbling over what I saw with the wicked. For when I saw the boasters with such wealth and prosperity, I became jealous over their smug security. 

Psalm 73:1-3 TPT

Psalm 73 describes the journey of a psalmist who needs to change his unhealthy view of God. He had nearly missed seeing God’s goodness for himself because he was jealous of people who had wealth and prosperity. His heart had become impure, craving prosperity and ease more than closeness with God. Seeing others get what he wanted made his heart bitter toward God, and only through realizing this truth could he begin to see God clearly:

Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.  Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth…But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.

Psalm 73:21-25, 28 NLT

God can change our hearts, and he wants us to talk to him about anything that is making us bitter, jealous, or distant from him. He can handle hearing the truth and he wants us to clear up our perspective so we can understand him.

Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? [14] I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain. [15] If I had really spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people. [16] So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! [17] Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.

Psalm 73:13-17 NLT

Coming close to God in honest prayer helped the psalmist get perspective. Once he had cleared out what had been weighing down his heart, he was able to see things from God’s point of view. The people he envied didn’t really have it made; they might have had temporary pleasure, but they didn’t have what he had—a glorious destiny, the guidance and presence of God himself, and the security of being sheltered by God as he went through life. His gratitude changed him and he started wanting to share with others these wonderful things God did for him instead of envying what everyone else seemed to have.  

When our hearts have become negative or darkened toward God, we can completely change them through honest prayer like we see in Psalm 73.

Pause and reflect

  • How would you describe the way you see God?
  • Can you relate to any of the psalmist’s negative views of God in Psalm 73? Which ones?
  • What are some things weighing on your heart that might be making your view of God turn negative?

Take action

  • Decide each day to search for and pray about any negative views you might have about God. Tell him honestly what you’re carrying in your heart and ask him to help you see him for who he really is. 

The Bible helps us know God more intimately

As we work on changing our view of God by becoming aware of our own heart, we also need to get to know God better by listening to what the Bible says about who he is. 

The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 provides a clear guide to changing our negative views of God to healthy ones. In this story, Jesus tells us about three servants who understood their master very differently. We can learn from them some important truths about God so that we can enjoy an intimate and inspiring relationship with him. 

God trusts us with more than we deserve

“For it is just like a man who was about to take a journey, and he called his servants together and entrusted them with his possessions.”

Matthew 25:14 AMP

The man in this parable represents God. This man was not only wealthy but also willing to entrust his valued possessions to those who had not yet proven their trustworthiness. Trust is a key quality of love, and this is God’s heart towards us (1 Corinthians 13:7).

God sees the best in us. He believes in us and trusts us with gifts and responsibilities, even if we haven’t done anything to prove our trustworthiness. He lets us in on his plans and purposes of changing the world. Seeing God as someone who trusts us can change a negative view that we are never good enough for him, or that he impersonally expects us to just follow orders. 

When someone entrusts us with something precious, we usually feel honored that they consider us worthy of their trust and motivated to do our best in return. In the same way, when we see God as someone who trusts us with precious gifts, we’ll respond by wanting to serve him. 

What do you think God has entrusted you with? How do you feel about God believing in and trusting you?

God understands us

To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and then he went on his journey.

Matthew 25:15 AMP

The master knew each of his servants personally and intimately. This is why he was able to understand each servant’s unique ability when it came to caring for his possessions; he understood what they could handle and what they couldn’t handle, and therefore treated them accordingly. He didn’t judge or criticize the servants who got less responsibility. Perhaps he even envisioned that their confidence and courage would grow as they successfully cared for a smaller responsibility so they could take on a larger responsibility one day. 

Too often I’ve viewed God as unfair based on how much or how little I have compared to others. When other people get status, strength, resources, advantages, opportunities, or gifts that I don’t get, I can get angry with God. In my pride, I want to believe I am just as capable (if not more) of handling what other people have and I don’t want to face my own limitations. 

In these moments, I completely miss the fact that God understands my abilities and treats me accordingly. He knows better than me what I need, and he always wants to bring good into my life (Romans 8:28). If I don’t have something that someone else has, it’s not because God is holding out on me or ignoring me. It’s only because he is working out something good. 

When we believe God is unfair, we are overlooking the fact that God is actually aware of and sensitive towards our lives, hearts, and abilities. He doesn’t criticize us for our limitations or needs, just as he didn’t criticize the servant to whom he gave the one talent.

What are some areas that you compare yourself to others? How does this affect your view of God? How do you feel about God understanding you and developing you to grow?

God gives us a choice

The one who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he [made a profit and] gained five more. Likewise the one who had two [made a profit and] gained two more. But the one who had received the one went and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

Matthew 25:16-18 AMP

The master gave each servant a choice to do whatever they wanted to do in caring for his money. Sometimes our negative view of God leads us to think he’s controlling, demanding, or unreasonable when actually he gives us the freedom of choice to do whatever we decide to with the things he provides. 

Our choices reveal what’s really in our hearts, and it’s very easy to blame God for them instead of taking responsibility. While the first two servants chose to get to work immediately and doubled the master’s investment, the last servant quit before he even started. He immediately dug a hole to hide his master’s money in the ground. As we’ll see later, he blamed the master for this decision, claiming that his master was demanding when his master truly made no demands of him. 

Seeing God as someone who generously entrusts me with things and lets me choose how to use them helps me change the negative view that God is controlling or demanding. He gives me gifts with no guarantee that I won’t squander them.

How have you felt God is unreasonable or demanding? What are some gifts God has given you free choice to use?

God remembers us

“Now after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.”

Matthew 25:19 AMP

Even after a long time, the master didn’t forget about his servants. He was patient with them, allowing them time to grow and multiply what he had entrusted to them, anticipating that upon his return they could celebrate together. 

Do you believe God remembers you? What areas of your life do you feel he has forgotten?

God wants a relationship, not a performance

And the one who had received the five talents came and brought him five more, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted to me five talents. See, I have [made a profit and] gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little, I will put you in charge of many things; share in the joy of your master.’ Also the one who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have [made a profit and] gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little, I will put you in charge of many things; share in the joy of your master.’

Matthew 25:20-23 AMP

Have you ever made a negative judgment about someone, only later to discover they had a very different heart than you assumed? This happened to me in one of my last walks with my dad. Growing up, I had been bitter at him because I thought he was only interested in me achieving, gaining social status and having a great career—when in fact his greatest joy was seeing me surpass what he had done in life. 

I’ll never forget the joy he had once I graduated from college. He put on my graduation cap, excited that I was equipped to do even greater things than he did. 

In this parable, the first two servants were excited about the increase in money they were able to acquire from their return on investment, but the master was more excited about their faithfulness and loyalty to him than any numbers or achievements they showed him. The first servant earned more than the second one, but the master was equally overjoyed about both of them because they were faithful and loyal in their relationship with him. 

Sometimes our view of God is negative because we don’t value what he values. Do you value outcomes over heart condition? Talent over motive? Achievements over faithfulness? 

God ultimately desires a relationship with us in which he constantly gets to share his joy with us, regardless of our ability to achieve or perform. He wants to entrust us with more and more, just as he entrusted these first two servants with greater influence and leadership because of their faithfulness and trustworthiness.

The one who had received one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a harsh and demanding man, reaping [the harvest] where you did not sow and gathering where you did not scatter seed. So I was afraid [to lose the talent], and I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is your own.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked, lazy servant, you knew that I reap [the harvest] where I did not sow and gather where I did not scatter seed. Then you ought to have put my money with the bankers, and at my return I would have received my money back with interest. So take the talent away from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ [29] For to everyone who has [and values his blessings and gifts from God, and has used them wisely], more will be given, and [he will be richly supplied so that] he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have [because he has ignored or disregarded his blessings and gifts from God], even what he does have will be taken away.

Matthew 25:24-27,29 AMP

The man who received one bag of gold gives us an example of how an unhealthy view of God appears. The one-talent servant believed that he had a “harsh and demanding” master. He viewed the master as just reaping where he didn’t sow and gathering where he didn’t scatter seed. In other words, the one-talent man viewed the master as everything but faithful, seeing him more as a hard, unfair, results-oriented opportunist.

As a result, this last servant claimed to be afraid, and decided not to trust his master. He wasn’t motivated to do anything for him. It wasn’t a positive relationship. 

Negative assumptions about who God is or what he might do will eventually become distancing, de-motivating, and even destructive to our relationship with him. 

What if this servant had instead seen his master as someone who rejoiced over a loyal heart, regardless of the outcome? Any fears he might have had would have disappeared, knowing there would be no risk of failure if his heart was faithful. 

Do you tend to value achievements, outcomes, and performance over relationships? Why? How does that influence what you think God values?

Pause and reflect

  • Which of these five qualities of God surprises you the most? Which makes you want to know him deeper?
  • How do these biblical aspects of God change your view of him?

Final thoughts

Understanding our view of God is an essential part of staying close to him. As we go through our lives, we should continue getting to know God better and be aware of any negative thoughts that can distance our relationship. 

God is trusting, understanding, and patient. He sees the best in us and values our heart more than our performance. As we keep our hearts clear and let the Bible teach us who God really is, we will be able to completely change any negative views we might have about him and draw close to him so we can experience his love.

How to Completely Change a Negative View of God 7

Ray Kim is a Southern California native who made the Bay Area his home after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley. He is passionate about community service, and is spearheading such efforts as the E-Hoops program at the University of San Francisco.

How to Completely Change a Negative View of God 7

Ray Kim is a Southern California native who made the Bay Area his home after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley. He is passionate about community service, and is spearheading such efforts as the E-Hoops program at the University of San Francisco.

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How to Completely Change a Negative View of God 9