A few months ago several ladies and I began spending part of our Sunday morning class time looking at attributes and characteristics of God. Each week we looked at a different passage of scripture and listed those we found.
The first passage we looked at was a portion of the Parable of the Lost Son, Luke 15:11-24.
“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” (NIV)
We were stunned at how many attributes and characteristics we discovered in this parable. It was amazing!
Let me share with you the 20 — yes, 20!!! — we found:
God . . . accepts us as we are (but that doesn’t mean he intends for us to stay that way!)
God . . . is affectionate
God . . . celebrates
God . . . is compassionate
God . . . is forgiving
God . . . is full of grace
God . . . is generous
God . . . is a God of second chances
God . . . is hands-on
God . . . knows us
God . . . looks for our return when we stray from him
God . . . is loving
God . . . is patient with us
God . . . recognizes us even when we are distant from him
God . . . rejoices
God . . . runs to us when he sees us coming
God . . . sees us from afar
God . . . is sympathetic
God . . . waits for us
God . . . welcomes us
Yes, some of these could be labeled as synonyms, but even synonyms often have slightly different connotations to them.
And, yes, there are probably more that could be discovered in this passage. (If you do, please let me know so I can add them to my notebook!)
From time to time we will add to this list. Attributes and characteristics of God can be found literally from Genesis to Revelation. There are so many to discover. Truth be told, I suspect the list is endless.
I challenge you to spend some time in this parable and see how many of these attributes or characteristics of God from which you have benefitted. You might also consider starting your own notebook listing these and/or journaling your own personal experience with the God who loved you during your own prodigal season, be it days, weeks, months, or years.