In the previous post, we covered God's holiness. In this post, we'll look at the second central truth in chapter 4:
God is Love
We do not know God rightly if we do not know that God is love. We see God displaying His love in His goodness and mercy from the opening pages of Scripture.
God's love isn't mere emotion or cheap sentiment. His love moves Him to act. It overwhelms barriers, smashes obstacles and topples powers. Dan proposes a definition of God's love:
As an attribute of God, love is that motivating excellence which moves Him to plan and act to accomplish what is for His greatest glory, and what is for His people's highest good.In other words, God's love is for Himself first. This idea is offensive to many of us. Don't we all think of people who love themselves first as selfish? Isn't selfishness sinful? Well, for anyone else, it is sinful. But God isn't like us.
Here's what Dan has to say:
Love defines. A person is defined by his loves...God is the infinitely majestic one. Whom or what should God love above all? What worthier object of His love is there than Himself? What object of affection does God have that is worthier than God Himself? After all, God's laws flow from His being, and His prime law is to love God with our all, then to love our neighbor (Matt. 22:36-40). We are to imitate God in our love (Matt. 5:44-45; Eph. 5:1-2). If we are to love Him first, can it shock us to learn that He does the same? If we were to love any creature more than God, it would be idolatry for us. Would it not be the same for God?
God is the center of the universe. He is the sum and essence of perfection and beauty. No one else is deserving of that kind of love, because no one else is God. Period.
Dan highlights 3 truths:
- God can no more not love, than He can not be God; however, we must remember...
- God's love must be a holy love, since all of God's attributes glow with His holiness; and
- God's love always and necessarily and rightly has Himself as its first object.
We tend to view God as though He were just like us, but Isaiah 55:8-11 reads, "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,' says the LORD. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."
This section of chapter 4 is also a lot to chew on. It is pretty shocking to think that God would put Himself at the top of His "Love List", but if we take the time to consider what the Bible says about Him, it makes sense. God's self-love isn't selfish love. As a defining characteristic, it stands to reason that because God is love, His love would start with himself and flow out toward us. His command to us is to love Him first. I include myself when I ask, "Is God first on my 'Love list'?"