How many of us love God? This isn’t a terribly intelligent question to ask a roomful of Christians – of course we all love God! But love is more than just saying the words “I love you” and having a heart full of emotion to match it.
The very first reference to loving God is Exodus 20:6 where loving God is equated to keeping his commandments. This link between loving God and obeying him is explicitly stated 13 times in scripture. We may say that we love God, but our actions prove whether or not this is true. If this is the case, there are many Christians in that proverbial room who do not love God quite as much as they might claim!
God’s love for those who trust him may be unchanging and everlasting, but our love for his is certainly up and down like a roller coaster. Jesus regularly questioned the love of his disciples – “IF ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15 – see also vs. 21 & 23) None of us enjoy having the sincerity of our love called into question, but the reality is that we are engaged in a spiritual war with an enemy bent on distracting our love for God away from God. Loving the world will earn you the tag of not having the love of the Father in you. (I John 2:15) Try saying that you love and God while hating your brother and the Bible calls you a liar! (I John 4:20) Thus we live in a world full of warnings that love of many will wax cold (Matt. 24:12) while others leave their first love for Christ. (Rev. 2:4)
How do we avoid this fate of slipping into the Pharisee model of much religious piety and self-righteousness with all the right words about loving God while being proven liars? Jesus flatly said of the Pharisees, “I know you, that you ye have not the love of God in you.” (John 5:42)
There are four steps to loving God properly – with ALL of our heart, soul, mind, strength and understanding as the gospels command us:
- Allow God to circumcise your heart – to cut away all the distractions! “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” (Deut. 30:6)
- Allow God to direct your heart into his love – to get you through those distractions that are impossible to get away from! “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.” (II Thes. 3:5)
- Humble yourself and get some grace from God to fight the enemy – read James 4:1-8.
- Ask yourself the question, Do I love God enough to ____________? Read John 21:15-17. What is the sin, problem, or thing you struggle with? Do you love God enough to make that thing secondary to him and thus love him exclusively with ALL your heart and soul? If not, return to step one and repeat!