Friday, February 22, 2013

How To Love God

Well, we all know that Jesus said that loving God was the most important commandment, but let's read it again.

Mark 12:28-33 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

So how do we love God? Is loving God just the emotion that wells up inside us as we hear songs about His care for us? Is loving God just the conviction and encouragement we feel when God's Word is preached and we are spurred on to greater works for Him? No, emotion is one puzzle piece in loving God, but it is not the whole puzzle.

Looking at First John 4:19 we realize that our love for God is our response to His love for us.

1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.

Therefore, the more we learn of, know, and understand God's love for us; the more we will love Him in return. Our love is a responsive love.

We have to be careful not to make the mistake of our culture and equate love to feelings. Feelings come and go. Tue love is a constant. God chooses to love us despite our roller coaster of love and rebellion towards Him. You see, pure love is a choice.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Not only is love a choice in response to God's love, but love is giving. The desire to give is at the heart of love. The scribe in Mark twelve tells us that we are to love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Many times we read this verse and skip over this because we think that the Bible is just repeating itself for emphasis. This is not the case. God is delineating exactly what he wants us to give to Him as a display of our responsive love of Him. Basically God is telling us that the way to love Him is to give ourselves back to Him.

The heart speaks of our emotions. We still say, "I love her with all my heart." Too often we go to one extreme or another in the area of emotion in the spiritual life. Either we make all of our spiritual walk about our emotions, or we dismiss emotion as something human that God doesn't want. On the contrary, God gave us emotions and wants us to use them in love and worship of Him.

The soul in the Bible (as contrasted to the body and spirit) talks about our personality, what makes us unique; who we are. God has made each of us special. Because He has made each of us unique He wants us  each to love Him with our own special personality, not copying someone else's love or spiritual method. God doesn't want a relationship with a spiritual formula, He wants a relationship with that unique and special creation of His...You!

The mind, of course, is the intellect. Again, there are those who go to extremes in their spiritual lives. They either make love for God all about Bible knowledge, study, and doctrine, or they dismiss intellectual study all together in favour of emotion and pragmatism. Both extremes are wrong and dangerous. We give our intellect back to God by using it in balance as a practice of our love for Him.

And so we finally come to our strength. Strength then conveys the concept of all that is physical. Each of us have physical attributes, strength, and abilities that God gave us. In a continual act of love for God we use them as a gift of love to Him.

This is how we love God. We give back to Him all of who we are in a response to His love displayed to us.

In a side note, we also realize that we are instructed to love our neighbour in the same way.

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