God is love. . . but that’s not all.

Perhaps the most comforting three words in the Bible are in the sentence, “God is love.” The Apostle John emphasizes this quality of God, and reminds us that His followers are to imitate His example by loving one another (1 John 3:14-18; 4:7-16). In fact, it’s one indicator that we are, indeed,

God’s children, if we love as He loves.

But John also points out, in the same little letter, that God is light (1 John 1:5) and that He is righteous (1 John 2:29; 3:7). The “light” is John’s symbol for truth, that is, the revelation of God as He is. So while God is love, He also tells the truth about Himself and us, and that means He can be trusted. That God also is “righteous,” or in this context, “just,” is reassuring because we know there is a moral compass and accountability in Him. It also means He can and will and must bring all things into judgment.

There is a danger when we emphasize one of these attributes, or qualities, to the exclusion of the others. Many think of Him as a truth-teller, and will emphasize proper, objective, doctrine over all else. Others proclaim Him as the just judge and often bring guilt into their conversation as a motivator. Even more like to characterize Him as love and loving, as if that were His only attribute, an old grandfatherly deity who just wants his grandchildren to have a good time.

Think of these three truths as a three-legged stool or platform, which presents the perfect God of the Bible, especially as He is manifest in Jesus, His only begotten Son. Reading through the Gospels gives evidence of this. Jesus is a lover of sinners, a clarifier of the confused, and a strict judge of those who judge others.

This allows us, His followers, to see God as precisely what we need at any given moment. When we have sinned, He is our advocate. He forgives us because His justice has been satisfied in Jesus’ death, and thus His love has found full expression (1 John 1:9, 10; 2:1, 2). This is the “light” of the Gospel itself, how God can be both just and loving. When we confess our sins, forgive others, and seek truth, we are acting out the new nature within us, God’s own “seed” that does not excuse sin or hide from truth or wrongly condemn judge others.

As you have opportunity, read through John’s first letter and you will see that he weaves a tapestry with these three realities of our loving, but just, Revealer of Himself. You also will see that it would be impossible for a just God to save sinners any other way than through the Cross.

“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us,
because he has given us of his Spirit.”
1 John 4:13

Leave a Reply