We often hear the statement that “God is love.” It appears in Scripture and in descriptions of God, and rightly so, for God truly is love; however, that idea does very little to help us understand God. I mean, we all appreciate the concept of love; but we usually associate love with a feeling of peace and contentment, happiness and joy. In reality, those are the after effects of love. Those are the feelings we receive from love. They are not love, itself.
So what is love? Fortunately, St. Paul spoke to the Corinthians about love. He named love’s characteristics. He helped them, and us, to recognize love as it appears in the world. He shared the truth about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Now we can look at the individual characteristics of love. We can see the truth about love – patience, kindness, no jealousy, no arrogance, no exaggeration, no rudeness, no self-centeredness, slow to anger, no brooding, no happiness about wrongs, happiness in truth, tolerant, faith-filled, hopeful, enduring. Those are things we can look for and recognize. Those are traits we can emulate. Those are the things we appreciate in others.
When we focus on the characteristics of love to understand our God, we have a clearer picture of Him:
- He is patient. He would never force Himself into our lives, but waits for our invitation.
- He is kind, so no mean thing comes from Him. His plan was not to have illness, disasters, pain, or death. His plan was and still is paradise for all of us.
- He is not jealous. He wants the best for us.
- He is not arrogant. After all He is God, He could be demanding of our choice and behavior, but He is not.
- He is truth. Even if the information is challenging, He shares what He knows we need.
- He is not rude. He does not want us to fail or to be hurt or to be less than all we can be.
- He is not self-centered. His desire is for our happiness.
- He is slow to anger. Just imagine the number of times we would have done away with humankind if we were in charge.
The litany could go on and on.
If we understand God in this light and if we choose to be more like our Father, we have a real path to follow. In Jesus, we have a clear picture of God and how to walk that path. We can be love for one another and love our God.
God is love. There is no greater choice than to be more like our Father.