Recently I was in conversation with a young man who was lamenting the struggle that he felt in loving God. His understanding and appreciation of what God had done for him through the acts of grace was clear. Equally his appreciation of the power and sovereignty of God was an area of clear conviction for him, but is there something more?
The lament was sincere. To experience God is a worthy desire. To know God’s love and to love God is of first importance as revealed by God in Deuteronomy 6:4, Hear, Oh Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. God’s sovereignty demands the priority of our love.
What does a wholehearted love for God look like? Consider these four descriptions of the nature of love God wants from us.
- We love God with all our heart when we love Him exclusively as our sovereign.
- We love God with all our soul when we discover satisfaction in Him more than any other person or thing.
- We love God with all our mind when we make decisions to obey His every command.
We love God with all our strength when we persevere in the face of every trial.
Our love for God must endure. It is easy to love a fellow human whom we can see and touch and hear and hug. It is far more challenging to love a God we can’t see, who allows us to go through challenging trials, and who has made us promises that we’ve yet to see fulfilled.
The question is what sustains such love?
The Bible places “loving God” as an ongoing pathway to maturity in the context of a command. In John 14:21 we have, Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.
The Bible exposed to us by the Holy Spirit’s conviction and guidance provides the Christian with a foundation of instruction for living life as God purposes we should live. It should not surprise us as we read in John 14 that there is an expectation of response as we read the scriptures and listen to the Spirit’s prompting. “Whoever has my commands and obeys them he is the one who loves me.”
This is a telling statement of fact! Obedience is the key to growing in love for God. The sequence is as follows. Through the acts of obedience, Christ’s love is realised. Not only is Christ love realised but the love of the God the Father is multiplied to us. This double emphasis of God's love for us found in John 14:21 fills us with peace, security, and hope! But there is even more to be gained. The incredible end result of our acts of obedience is that accompanying the love of Jesus and God the Father for us is also the revelation of God.
As John 14:21 declares, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my father and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
So often in humanity’s interpretation of love we expect that God should deliver to us our wants and needs. But God clearly has a primary sequence for us to experience a knowledge of Him or of “showing Himself to us”.
What does it take to know God? It takes love for God displayed in faith and obedience that leads to God being revealed to us as a result of our obedience. The guarantee of sustaining our love for God is realised by those who continue to deliberately live a life of obedience to Him! The promised result is further revelation for the living and the practice of faith. “I will reveal myself to him” has the prerequisite of obedience.
Taste and see
Open your Bible and ask God to show you an area that He would like you to address in an act of obedience. Maybe a change of behaviour, an act of service or someone who you could share the message of the gospel with.
It has been my experience that as I step out in faith to share the gospel in partnership on mission with God, that God has revealed to me His purpose and presence in life's journey. Although the murmurings of my heart often have got in the way of God's revelation, God’s reset has always been available.
Love, obey, and as a result, enjoy the presence of God.