God’s attributes don’t compete against one another for importance. His love doesn’t override everything else He says about Himself.
Moreover, love isn’t something that God discovered in the New Testament, thus abandoning His earlier dominant attributes of justice and wrath. The transition from Malachi to Matthew doesn’t mark a transition in God’s character. God doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6). “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). God is love, but He doesn’t dispense with His other characteristics in favor of His love.
Unfortunately there is a modern propensity to overemphasize God’s love and ignore His other attributes. We recently asked John MacArthur about the dangers of that imbalanced view of God. Here’s what he had to say:
If we are to accurately understand and present the love of God, then we must do so in a way that complements—not competes with—His other attributes. They must be harmonized within the corpus of Scripture. While that is theologically challenging, it is not impossible. As John pointed out, the seeming conflict between some of God’s attributes is ultimately resolved at the cross of Christ.
And we’ll explore that in greater detail next time.