The world, and even the pulpit, is currently inundated with a common theme – love others. Love others who are different from you. Love them in word and in action.
This is a common theme of the Bible too, even noted by Jesus to be the second most important commandment. But what about the most important commandment – to love God?
In Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV), Jesus taught, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
But…what does it mean to love God? Does it mean you surprise Him with gifts? Or that you compliment and tell Him you love Him every morning? Maybe that you shout him out on Facebook on your anniversary?
How do you love God, who doesn’t exist within a physical body or speak (usually) in an audible voice? This can sometimes feel like a foggy commandment, especially when we view it through the lens of our human relationships.
So let’s shine a light on it, shall we? What does it mean to love God? Well…
When you love God, you make an effort to know Him.
Let’s pretend you’re dating someone and you’re truly, madly, deeply in love with them. (Savage Garden, anyone?) Now let’s pretend that person wrote you a love letter.
Would you read it? Of course you would!
Because when someone you love has something to say (and especially something to say to you specifically), you want to hear it. So you read the letter, even if it’s long, even if parts of it feel slower, even if you have to dig a little deeper to understand a part here or there.
When you love God, you read the letter He wrote you, the Bible. You listen to pastors and theologians who can help to bring clarity and practical application. You attend small groups and Bible studies because you’re eager to know Him more and better.
Need a little help in this area? You’re in luck! Click here for some practical tips for creating a daily Bible devotional habit.
When you love God, you make regular time to talk with Him.
How long would your dating relationship last if you never talked to your partner? Better yet, how long would it last if you only talked about yourself and your needs, then abruptly ended the conversation? Probably not long.
But that’s what so many of us do – pray when we need something, sometimes even stamp scripture on our prayers to remind God He’s obligated to answer them, then pay Him radio silence until our next need arises.
When you love God, you make regular time to pray and you pray according to the Bible, partnering your worries with praise (Philippians 4:6-7), shifting the focus from yourself to God, and praying for God’s will over your own (Matthew 6:5-15).
When you love God, you worship Him.
What is worship? We often think of worship as something we do at church while a band plays.
But this is just one form of worship, one expression of it. The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers a few more accurate definitions:
: to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion
: extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem
When someone worships the almighty dollar, they don’t just sing a few songs about money every week or play songs about the dollar in the background of their home. They live for money.
Someone who worships money sees everything through the lens of how much it will earn or cost them. They value money over anything else in their life, often prioritizing it over family, friends, and even proper self-care. They’re always thinking about money.
When you worship God, you view everything through the lens of who He is and what He says. You value Him over everything and everyone else in your life (Matthew 10:37-38). You’re constantly thinking about Him.
Remember, Jesus commands us in Mark 12:30 (ESV) to, “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” I love the way the same commandment is worded in the Message version, “Love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.”
Having trouble keeping God at the forefront of your mind? The same tips that work to reconnect with God will work to increase His presence in your day-to-day activities.
When you love God, you obey Him.
Jesus repeatedly and explicitly states in the Bible that if we love Him, we will keep His commands.
John 14:15 (MSG), ”If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you.”
John 14:23-24, “If anyone loves me, he will carefully keep my word….Not loving me means not keeping my words. The message you are hearing isn’t mine. It’s the message of the Father who sent me.”
John 15:10, “If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love.”
First John 5:2-3, “The reality test on whether or not we love God’s children is this: Do we love God? Do we keep his commands? The proof that we love God comes when we keep his commandments and they are not at all troublesome.”
This means that when you love God, you don’t say “I love you,” then turn around and talk about someone behind their back (James 1:26). Or speak carelessly (Matthew 12:36). Or commit adultery in your heart (Matthew 5:28).
This doesn’t mean that unless you live and act perfectly, you don’t love God. God Himself said that no one is perfect (Romans 3:10). But when you love God, you’re always striving to obey His commands.
Now all of this could feel discouraging, but it shouldn’t! Here’s why: No one is perfect.
Let me repeat that. No one is perfect.
And in fact, God created us to be imperfect, that Christ Himself would fill in our gaps. Second Corinthians 12:9 assures us, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”
If you remember nothing else from this post remember this: love is a verb, in human relationships and God relationships alike. It’s not an emotion or feeling or swooning sensation. Love is an action word.
What does it mean to love God? It means we take action. We make an effort to know Him, make regular time for prayer and worship, and continuously strive to obey His commands.
You’ll never be able to love Him perfectly or in the way He deserves, but your efforts are pleasing to Him. Let’s strive together, friend.
P.S. Want to teach your kids about Jesus, but don’t know where to start? Download our free worksheet full of links to short Bible stories, simple memory verses, free Bible coloring pages, and more resources to better equip you to teach your kids about Jesus! Get yours HERE!
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