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Who Is God? Six Personality Traits of God
by Dr. Linda Smallwood, BBS, M.Min., D.Min.


In This Lesson
Introduction | He Is Knowable | He Is Approachable
He Is Creative | He Is Forgiving | He Is Honest | He Is Capable


Why a discussion about God's "personality traits"? Simple. We have made the claim that God is a Person — or rather the embodiment of three Persons in One. Therefore, in order to better understand Him as Someone instead of something, it may help to attribute the same personality traits to Him that we would use when discussing or thinking about any other person.

  • He is knowable.
    God can be known by us. In fact, He wants to be known by us! Not only does He tell us about Himself in His Word, but He even welcomes us to personally get to know him. This goes well beyond just knowing about Him; He wants us to really know Him intimately — just as a husband knows his wife or a mother knows her child.

    "Thus says the LORD: 'Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.'" (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

  • He is approachable.
    This, of course, is very similar to the point above. If God does indeed want to be known by us, then we must be able to approach Him, to draw near to Him. In His Word, He invites us to talk to Him and to welcome His involvement in whatever concerns us.

    We don't have to assume a particular stance or posture, use certain words or tone, worry about strict theological correctness, or make ourselves "acceptable" before we approach Him. Just as a mother loves her child who comes running through the door filthy from head-to-toe, it is God's nature to be loving and accepting of us when we come to Him — on His terms — in whatever condition we are.

    "The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." (Psalm 145:18)

    "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:12-13)

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  • He is creative.
    One attribute that separates humankind from the animal kingdom is our creativity. From the wheel to transcontinental trains . . . from kites soaring overhead to rockets that search the farthest reaches of our galaxy . . . from simple salves to soothe sore muscles to organ and limb transplants . . . we never stop inventing, creating, and recreating. Not only does this set us apart from the animals, but it's another way in which we are created in our Father's image, for He is the ultimate Creator.

    While everything we make must be constructed from existing materials and/or built from previous works and thoughts, God is able to simply speak things into existence. His creativity, however, goes far beyond His creation of galaxies and life forms. He is also able to create solutions to all of today's problems; and He wants us to be aware of and to rely on His creative abilities.

    Psalm 147:5—

    "I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth." (Psalm 121:1-2)

    Psalm 124:8—

    "For your Maker is your husband — the LORD Almighty is his name- the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth." (Isaiah 54:5)

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  • He is forgiving.
    This personality trait may be a little more difficult for us to immediately identify with because we don't always or easily forgive those who have wronged us. The fact remains, however, that we all have the capacity to forgive others, which presumes upon the fact of also having the capacity to not forgive.

    Before we discuss God's ability and desire to forgive us, let us first examine in what ways we have wronged Him. Borrowing from another lesson in this level about the fact of sin, sin is defined as "a transgression [evil-doing] of God's will", "estrangement from God", "a breaking of divine or moral law". Notice that none of these definitions includes the word "intentionally" or even "knowingly".

    Whether we do it intentionally or as a result of ignorance, culture, family or peer pressure, in response to an injury or harm done to us, or any other number of excuses, sin is still sin. And to a holy God who cannot even look on sin (cf. Habakkuk 1:13), this is an affront [an insult] to Him. As such, it hurts Him.

    And why wouldn't it? Why would our sin matter to Him or why would He be "hurt" by it? As we've already discussed, God desires a relationship with us! But, since He cannot even look on sin, let alone fellowship with it, He must turn away from those who habitually practice sin — that is, doing things our way instead of His. And as we discussed earlier, He will judge us one day for our sin.

    So, what is God to do? On one hand, He wants to fellowship with us; but on the other, He can't because of our sin. The answer is so simple and yet so profound that it defies imagination, and as some have described it, seems totally unreasonable or illogical. Knowing that we could never measure up, never make ourselves clean enough to approach this approachable God, God the Son came to us in human flesh and took in His body and soul the penalty for our sin so He could forgive our sins and we could know this knowable God!

    20"For no one is put right in God's sight by doing what the Law requires; what the Law does is to make us know that we have sinned.
    21But now God's way of putting people right with himself has been revealed. It has nothing to do with law, even though the Law of Moses and the prophets gave their witness to it.
    22God puts people right through their faith in Jesus Christ. God does this to all who believe in Christ, because there is no difference at all:
    23everyone has sinned and is far away from God's saving presence.
    24But by the free gift of God's grace all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free.
    25God offered him, so that by his blood he should become the means by which people's sins are forgiven through their faith in him. God did this in order to demonstrate that he is righteous. In the past he was patient and overlooked people's sins; but in the present time he deals with their sins, in order to demonstrate his righteousness. In this way God shows that he himself is righteous and that he puts right everyone who believes in Jesus."
    (Romans 3:20-25 GNB emphasis added)

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  • He is honest.
    As any student of anthropology or history or the Bible will tell you, honesty is not the first character trait one thinks of when thinking about humankind or personhood. Rather, we are more likely to describe ourselves, in general, as selfish and deceptive.

    Perhaps a better word to describe our God in terms of personhood would be "transparent". Transparency — that is, total honesty, hiding nothing — is a quality God desires from each of us and one that He models for us in His Word, in the Holy Spirit's dealings with us, and in the Person of Jesus Christ.

    God tells us clearly and plainly about Himself, and everything He says about Himself is reliable. How can we know this? Because, if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that everything He says about us is reliable! This assures us that we can fully rely on Him, that all His promises are true, and that He will accomplish in us, through us, or for us all that He purposes. We can take Him at His word!

    "And he said, 'Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.'" (Exodus 34:10)

    "God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?" (Numbers 23:19)

    Psalm 119:105—

    "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11)

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  • He is capable.
    You and I are capable of doing or achieving many things. Whether we do them or not may be subject to timing, finances, culture, or confidence. The fact remains, however, that we are each gifted or talented in certain areas — whether singing, cooking, mechanics, languages, teaching, playing a musical instrument, parenthood, medicinal arts, science, architecture, engineering, etc.

    The Bible tells us that God is 100% right about everything all the time. His wisdom is unlimited. "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!" (Romans 11:33)

    Not only does He know everything about the past, but He knows all future events, too. He understands every single element of any given situation. He needs no one to counsel Him or persuade Him to do the right thing. He will simply do the right thing because He is capable and His motives are always pure and righteous.

    And because He is honest, forgiving, creative, approachable and knowable, we can totally depend on Him to do the right thing in every situation that concerns us. He will never make a mistake, cheat us, or deceive us.

    "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28 NIV)

    Psalm 25:3—

    "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." (Proverbs 19:21)

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