Loving God Means What?
How hard is it for you to love God? How do you know that you love God?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this “love” thing. I’m beginning to think that most infractions of the laws of God, the commands of God, the revealed desires and will of God, hang on this single, delicate thread called “love”.
Scripture teaches that love is primary in the development of both personal and corporate Spirit-life. The effectiveness of the body of Christ, as we re-present God’s kingdom here, is powered by love.
John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” ESV
God not only loves, but according to 1 John 4:8 “. . . God is love.”
Jesus considered love to be uppermost in both vertical and horizontal relationships; note the following Scriptures:
- Vertical love
Mark 12:28-30 And one of the scribes came up and . . . asked him [Jesus], “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And 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.’” ESV
- Horizontal: easy-to-love people
John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. ” (Jesus to his disciples) ESV
It’s fairly easy to love those who love us. But Jesus goes on to give us a greater challenge, because not everyone is easy to love. There are people who are mean, nasty, argumentative, hardened, bad-tempered and just plain weird. People who hurt us, betray us, criticize us, misjudge us, speak ill of us to others, dislike us without a cause. There are also those who seek to belittle Christians, because they do not know or love Christ; these are people who lack Spirit-life. Does God expect us to love them?
- Horizontal: hard-to-love people
Luke 6:32-35 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” ESV
Which is the hardest to do: to love God, or to love others? I believe that if we get the vertical right, the horizontal is a whole lot easier.
So, how do we know we love God? How do we measure our love for God? Our love can be measured by the way we live:
Joshua 22:5 “Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep His commandments and to cling to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. ESV
Jesus reaffirms the idea that loving God results in obeying God:
John 14:23 “Jesus answered, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words.’ ” NIV
So, love for God is demonstrated in obedience; the command God gave is to love; hence, to love is to obey- and to obey is to love. It all boils down to “love”. Refusing to love others is not only disobedience; it’s a violation of your love for God.
The emphasis should not be on “obey”, but on love. We don’t need to learn to obey – we know how to obey, even when we choose not to do it. Obedience or disobedience is not the real issue – love is the real issue.
Both the incentive and the power to obey God, come out of a love relationship with God:
1 John 4:7-8 “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. NRSV
1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. NRSV
Love is not a feeling we get for God or for people – it’s a choice that results in actions: we love God, so we obey Him – obeying Him results in loving others, even to the point of personal discomfort at times.
Over the years we have opened our home (apartment, house, etc.) for various people to live with us for extended periods of time – students, teens, drug-addict trying to get free, homeless adults, etc. It was not always easy or convenient. But it was our chance to demonstrate God’s love to others and our love for God.
It’s hard for people who have not felt loved to be able to love God or others. That’s why God had to initiate the love cycle. We first have to let God’s love in, by acknowledging our need of that love, our sadness that Jesus had to die for our sins, our acceptance of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.
1 John 4:9 This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
As God’s love flows into us, we become a conduit for that love to flow back out toward others. He is the source of the very love He is asking us to show to others.
1 John 4:19 19 We love because He first loved us.
When we enter into and nurture a love relationship with God, obedience to the command to love others will not be such a struggle, it will be the natural overflow of loving God.
If you are having a hard time loving people, check your love-relationship with your heavenly Father. Surrender you inability to Him and ask Him to fill you with His love for you and for others.
How’s your love life? How good are you at loving God?
©2012, Marcy Alves
Posted on April 12, 2012, in Christian Growth, Follow Me, My Journey, Reflections and tagged God, God the Father, Jesus, Love of God, loving, loving God, loving others, obedience, obedience & love, The New Commandment. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.