God is love. We tend to diminish this aspect of God’s nature. We confuse it with the fickle love we experience as humans. This is not God’s love. God is so defined by being love that if we have a relationship with Him, we will love as well. It is a wonderful idea to contemplate. John emphasizes just how important this is to God. He says that if we don’t love, we don’t actually know God.
It is not that God shows love or God is able to love. He is love. Love is central to God’s identity. As a result, Christianity without love is not Christianity. Jesus without love is not Jesus. A harsh God waiting to crush us for any transgression is not a real God. That is a reflection of us, not Him. God describes Himself as love. He is just and there will be judgment, but He is still love.
What’s more, there are a number of Greek words that John could have used to say love in this context. He chose ‘agape‘. It is a word that refers to unconditional, selfless love. It is the love of a parent for a child or a husband for his wife. God is love for the benefit of others. He genuinely wants good for us simply because He cares. God is also limitless and eternal so His unreserved love is boundless and never-ending.
This understanding of God’s nature can help us get to know Him better.
We can do this by looking at how God defines love in the Bible. Since God is love, we can then see what God says about Himself through those verses.
God Defines Love in the Bible
Consider 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, a portion of the love chapter of the Bible:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails
We often apply these verses as directions to our lives. This is appropriate as they are wonderful expressions of how we should live as followers of Christ. This section hangs framed on the wall in our house for this reason. But we shouldn’t miss we only know how to love because He loved us.
Paul’s description of what love first describes the very nature of God.
God is love. Paul’s description, therefore, says He is kind, patient and does not envy. He is therefore not prideful and rude. God is not easily provoked.
In reading the verses, do we view God in these ways? Do we have a proper understanding of who God is?
The Attributes of God
Love is patient. God is patient.
Do we understand how patient God is with the world and His people? The world mocks Him and defies Him while He patiently awaits just one more lost sheep coming back into the fold.
Do we have a false view of God as tapping His foot waiting for us to finally get it right?
That is not the real God as He is love. He is infinitely patient with us.
Love is Kind. God is kind.
I love this one. I grew up with unkind people and expected others to be the same. The world is very cruel at times. God is simply not like that.
Jesus treated even the worst of sinners gently and with respect. God is so good to us! He is kind to us as a Father to little children. He is the perfect Shepherd.
Love does not envy. God does not envy.
God wants the best for us, even when we don’t deserve it. Jesus gave up everything for us to share in His inheritance. God’s desire is for us to have an abundant life, not for us to suffer for every little mistake we make.
Do we have a false view of God as vindictive and waiting to punish us when we mess up? That is not God as He is love. He celebrates with us when we are blessed. It is He who is doing the blessing, after all.
Read through the description of love in the verses and just drink it in. God is all of the attributes set out in the verses.
How did we do? Are we challenged by any of the descriptions of God?
If so, read the verses again and again. Meditate upon them. Pray and ask God to teach us more about Himself. He is patient with our doubt or confusion. He believes in us and never fails. It says so right there in the Bible.
God never fails! He won’t fail one of His children when we are trying to know Him better.
Tom Neary is loving life as an on fire follower of Jesus. Helping others see to the glory of Jesus and to live abundantly in Him is his mission. He is a Christian, husband, father, lawyer and a regular guy called to teach God’s Word simply. To check out more of what Tom is doing visit pastorunlikely.com and calvarycatonsville.com. Tom has also just launched a podcast “Come Let Us Disciple” focused on informal discipleship.