A few years ago, I attended a discipleship course at my church. One of our assignments was to tell God we loved Him three times every hour, every day. It surprised me when I realized I didn’t always tell God I loved Him. I thanked Him regularly, but saying “I love You” to God seemed strange, and I wondered why. Of course, I love God, so why wasn’t this a normal practice?
What does it mean to love God?
I remembered the discussions about love that my husband and I had before getting married. We talked about how the infatuation of new love would wear off. We talked about how loving someone is a choice, a decision. I choose to love my husband.
On days when things don’t go right and he does something that irritates me (although this never happens), I still love him. If my husband stopped loving me or no longer showed his love for me, I would have a choice to make. Do I love my husband because of what he does for me and how he treats me? Or do I love my husband because I have made a choice and a commitment to love him?
Scripture says, “we love Him because He first loved us”. This doesn’t mean we love God because He is good or shows us love, but it means that God has made it possible for us to love at all.
Consider how we act when we love someone. When we fall in love, all we think about is the one we are in love with. When my husband and I were dating, we stayed up late at night talking on the phone. Many nights we sacrificed our sleep just to hear each other’s voice. When we were first married, we did everything together: errands like the dry cleaners, the drug store, grocery store, hardware store, the mall, hobbies we had individually enjoyed before, even yard work. We always wanted to be together. We put the other one’s wishes above our own. We desired each other’s presence and wanted to hear their voice.
- When was the last time I missed sleep so that I could stay up and spend time with God?
- Do I think about God incessantly?
- Do I desire His presence everywhere I go and long to hear His voice?
- What sacrifices am I willing to make for God in comparison to the sacrifices I have or will make for my family because I love them?
- What is the first thing I think about in the morning?
- Do my thoughts naturally go to God with a desire to talk to Him (otherwise known as prayer) and read His words?
Where is my comfort? Is it in God? or roses, chocolate, and jewelry?
Do I really love God? Do you?
So, how do we develop our love for God?
First, it’s a command. Jesus said this was the greatest commandment, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Our heart is our center, our thoughts, or our feelings. Our soul is our very breath and who we are. Our mind refers to our understanding and intelligence; thus, not a blind faith, but a decision to love. Our strength is our ability and might. It is an intense love.
Second, Jesus said to keep His commandments. It’s like a circle. We are commanded to love Him. And if we love Him, we keep His commandments—one of which is loving Him. Obedience is part of love.
You have probably heard the question, which came first: the chicken or the egg? So I pose the question, which came first: love or obedience? In the beginning God created, so I would say the chicken came before the egg. In the beginning God loved us first, so I would say love came before obedience. But either one works.
Whether we start by loving out of obedience or start by obeying out of love, we will find ourselves in the circle with no beginning or end. It doesn’t matter where we jump on. It only matters that we do.