Who is the most godly person you know? Some of you may identify a parent or grandparent, or maybe a famous person like Mother Teresa or Billy Graham. Maybe it’s your childhood Sunday school teacher or the neighbor down the street who invited you to church. These people are examples of someone who has worked to become more Christ-like. They have taken on God’s communicable characteristics—those characteristics that we can imitate.
God has many communicable characteristics, some of which we’ve already discussed. For example, although we are to leave the judgment up to God, the Bible does tell us to strive to be righteous, holy, patient, compassionate, and merciful, all of which we discussed in the God is Judge study. We’ll add a few more to that list today. These godly characteristics can help us build strong relationships with God and with others. As we work through this list of God’s characteristics, be thinking about how you should reflect each one in your own life.
Although I have listed these verses using the words used in the NIV, I found in my research that many of these terms are interchangeable depending on which version of the Bible you read. For example, a verse that talks about God’s kindness in one version may use the word love or goodness in a different version. Consider looking up these verses in several different versions to see what words are used there. Regardless of the exact term used, all the versions create a consistent picture of God’s character.
Characteristics Related to the Fruit of the Spirit
Although I didn’t put all of them in this list, many of God’s relational characteristics are listed in the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. These are characteristics of God that are passed on to us through the work of the Holy Spirit.
God is Love. The entire Bible is the story of God’s love for his people. Many verses related to God’s love are coupled with his other characteristics, such as goodness and faithfulness.
Psalm 100:5 – For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
God of Joy. When the Bible talks about God and joy, it is most frequently in the context of God being the source of joy for his people. He is the God of joy.
Nehemiah 12:43 – And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.
Romans 14:17 – For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
God of Peace. Similar to joy, when the Bible talks about God and peace, it is often in the context of God being the source of peace for his people. He is the God of peace.
John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 – Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
God is Kind. God’s kindness is the outflow of many of his other characteristics—his love for us, his compassion for the afflicted, and his generous nature. God’s greatest kindness? Sending his Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins so that we can spend eternity with him.
Jeremiah 31:3 – The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
Ephesians 2:6-7 – And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
God is Good. When God created everything in Genesis 1, he said that it was good. He approved of everything he made—it was exactly as he wanted it to be to fulfill its purpose. The same is true of God. All of his characteristics add up so that God is exactly as he needs to be to rule all of creation, judge between righteousness and evil, and save those who call on his name.
1 Chronicles 16:34 – Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Mark 10:18 – “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.”
God is Faithful. In addition to God’s general faithfulness, many verses related to God’s faithfulness talk about how God is faithful to keep his covenant or to keep his promises.
Lamentations 3:22-23 – Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Hebrews 10:23 – Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Other Communicable Characteristics
The Bible gives a whole host of other characteristics of God that we should imitate. Here are a few.
God is Truth. The Bible often talks about God not being able to lie—he is truth. It also clearly states that God is the one true God.
John 14:6 – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
1 John 5:20 – We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
God is Trustworthy. Because God is trustworthy, we can be confident when we put our trust in him. We should trust God above all else. We can trust God because he is true and because he is faithful.
Psalm 20:7 – Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Psalm 145:13 – Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
God is Generous. God’s desire is to give generously to his people. This may not mean physical possessions, as so many want to believe, although this may happen in some circumstances. Instead, God wants to bless you with spiritual blessings that last for all eternity.
Psalm 31:19 – How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.
James 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
God is Compassionate. We saw this one in the God is Judge lesson in the context of God being compassionate to those who repent of their sins. In the relational context, God has compassion for those who are afflicted.
Isaiah 49:13 – Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
Matthew 14:13-14 – When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
God is an Encourager. We don’t often think of God as an encourager, and the Bible doesn’t emphasize this much, but God does encourage us. That encouragement is primarily used to help us follow him.
Acts 9:31 – Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 – May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
There are many other characteristics God displays as he relates to his people—us! We will cover another set of them in our next study about God’s characteristics. Together, these characteristics paint a picture of a loving, kind, and generous God who will do anything to be in relationship with his people.
The verses listed here are just a small taste of what the Bible says to support these characteristics of God. If you’d like to study more about God’s relational characteristics over the next month, I’d encourage you to download and print the premium resource that goes along with this study. It is a “Bible Bingo” with 25 Scripture passages that provide further evidence for the characteristics of God we discussed above.
If you are a paid subscriber, you can access this Bingo card for free by clicking here. If you are a free subscriber, you can purchase the Bible Bingo on Gumroad by clicking here. If you purchase all five cards, you can get them all for a discount. I will directly email you the final two as the studies become available. These cards are a great resource to use as a family to learn more about the characteristics of God. Or you can join our Bible Reading Challenge!
I’d love to hear your thoughts about God’s relational characteristics to imitate. Which characteristics are easiest or hardest for you to imitate? Who is that person you thought of who imitates God well?