Do I really love God?
Not “love” as some warm, emotional feeling, but love as action.
When I know what God wants me to do, and it sticks in my craw, do I do what God wants or do I follow my own heart?
When we really love someone, our heart’s desire is to please them – above ourselves. Self-denial seldom feels good. Loving God is about choosing to honor Him, despite how I feel.
The Bible has two important things to say about Love for God.
- Love is measured in actual obedience.
Saying “I love God” is worthless if my actions betray a different allegiance.
Matthew 21:28-31 speaks of a father who asks each of his two sons to go to work in a vineyard. The first says, “I will not” but later has a change of heart and goes. The second says, “I will” but does not go. Jesus asks: “Which of the two did his father’s will?” The reply: the one who obeyed.
God loved the world so much that He gave the gift of His only son. (John 3:16) The Son arrived on planet Earth and fulfilled the words of Psalm 40:7-8: “Here I am O Lord, I come to do your will.”
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus struggled with what God’s will required: being brutally beaten, abused and nailed to a cross to die. Sweating drops of blood, knowing the agony that awaited Him at Calvary, Jesus finally submitted to the will of God.
“He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42)
How do we demonstrate love for God? “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
- Love for God is directly related to love for people. If we don’t love them, we cannot love Him.
“But if we say we love God and don’t love each other, we are liars. We cannot see God. So how can we love God, if we don’t love the people we can see?” (1 John 4:20)
My struggle to love actual human beings who are made in the image of God is a reflection of my struggle to love God. “Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.” (1 John 4:8 ) People can be mean, cruel, hateful. I’m still commanded to respond in ways that reflect love for Him. This isn’t possible except God’s love abides in us.
Jesus repeatedly asks Peter if he loves Him. Peter replies that he does. Jesus responds: Feed my lambs. Take care of my sheep. Feed my sheep. Follow me. In other words, show your love for Me in loving relationship to my people.
It’s easy to claim ignorance about what God wants. Yet, we know more of God’s will than we want to admit:
- Love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:31)
- Love your enemies,
- bless those who curse you,
- do good to those who hate you,
- pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matt 5:44)
In the book of Revelation, Jesus rebukes a perseverant but loveless church for having “forsaken the love you had at first” and calls them to repentance. (Revelation 2:4-7)
What matters most is love!
The first of all the commandments is, ‘Listen, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)