"Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (I John 4:7-8, NLT here and throughout)
I read an article today entitled "It's All About Love" by Mr. Carl Akins (it originally appeared on the Church of God Big Sandy website). His article inspired this post. You can read it at the address provided below:
When we look at the statement "God is love," the first question that comes to mind is "What is love?"
After making the above quoted statement, John went on to write: "God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love - not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." (I John 4:9-10)
Paul also made an eloquent attempt to define love in his first letter to the saints at Corinth. He wrote: "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." (I Corinthians 13:4-7)
If God really is love (and Paul's definition is valid), shouldn't God exhibit all of the characteristics described by Paul? Let's compare each one of those characteristics to other Scriptures describing God:
Patient - "But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent...And remember, our Lord's patience gives people time to be saved." (II Peter 3:8-9, 15)
Kind - "How kind the Lord is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours!" (Psalm 116:5)
Not Jealous - "I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer. But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens. For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it." (Psalm 50:8-12) and "Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other." (Isaiah 45:22) What does God have to be jealous of? (For an explanation of Scriptures suggesting that God is jealous see my previous post on that subject.)
Not Boastful, Proud or Rude - "The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love." (Psalm 103:8)
Does not demand its own way - "Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!" (Deuteronomy 30:19) We are free moral agents. God gives us the ability to decide for ourselves what path we will take in life, but notice how He pleaded with the Israelites to make the right choice!
Not Irritable - "The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, 'Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness." (Exodus 34:6)
Keeps No Record of Being Wronged - "And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins." (Jeremiah 31:34)
Rejoices When the Truth Wins Out - Christ pointed out to his followers that a shepherd rejoices when he finds one of his sheep that is lost. (Luke 15:3-6) He continued: "In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven't strayed away!" (Luke 15:7)
Never Gives Up or Loses faith - "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." (Philippians 1:6)
Hopeful - "So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary." (Hebrews 6:18-19)
Endures Through Every Circumstance - "And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)
Imagine that! It appears that God measures up to Paul's definition of love!