Love For Him

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    Love is a very difficult concept to understand. A 15 year old girl will believe that she understands love...until she has been married to the love of her life for a couple of years. A newly wed couple believes that they understand love...until they have their first child. I have been married now for 13 years and looking back I only had an idea of what love was when I first got married. I cannot even imagine the love that I will feel for my wife when we have been married 20, 30, or even 50 years! True love is something that continually grows and becomes stronger. One’s love for God must continually grow as well in order to be pleasing to Him.

    Love for God is something that God has always demanded from His faithful followers. Deuteronomy 6:4-5, a verse that is very familiar, says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Under the law of Moses, God demanded more from Israel than just obeying Him, God demanded that Israel love Him as well. Many of the prophets condemned Israel for only following God in action, and not in heart. In Isaiah 1:13 God through the prophet Isaiah tells Israel, “Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.” God was struggling with Israel and their lack of sincerity and love in their worship to Him. Israel seemed to almost always struggle with the issue of having the proper love for God. Israel’s lack of love can also be seen in Joel. Joel 2:12-13 says, “Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.” God, through Joel once again warns Israel that they must turn to God with their whole heart...with love for God and concern for His will. Jesus even taught about the importance of loving God when talking with one of the Pharisees. Matthew 22:35-40 says, “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Jesus, while living under the old law told this Pharisee that the first and greatest command was to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. He also told them that all the law and the prophets hang on this command (love God) and the command to love your neighbor as yourself. Every single law that God has ever given can be summed up with these two principles of Love.

    Love for God is a fundamental necessity in Christianity as well. God always wanted His people to love Him throughout history and it has not changed in the Christian age. Love is still what the law of God “hangs on” in the Christian age...and even more so than it did under the old law. In John 14:21 Jesus says, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” One’s love for God is evident in the life that they live. When a Christian loves God as they should, they will obey that which God has commanded. This same principle is taught earlier in John 14:15 which says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Interestingly enough, love for neighbors is also connected to love for God under the new law. 1 John 5:2-3 says, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” The way that one can know that they love their fellow brethren is when they love God as they should and thereby obey Him. Love for God is also connected to love for others in 1 John 4:20 which reads, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” If a Christian does not love other Christians as they should, then they by default do not love God as they should either.

    It is clearly evident from the Bible that one must love God. Yet why should Christians love God? Is He worthy of love? Any love that a Christian can possibly have for God is a direct result of the love that God has already shown. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love him, because he first loved us.” 1 John even describes that love is not seen in the fact that Christians love Him, but in the fact that God loved man and gave His son to die for us (John 3:16). 1 John 4:10 says, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” The amazing sacrifice that God made in sending His son to die is a love that man cannot match. Jesus was willing to leave His home in heaven, humble Himself to live as a man, and die on the cross all because of His love for man (Philippians 2:5-8). This great love was given to man when man was living in rebellion to God. Man was living in sin, disobedience, and rebellion to God when God showed this great love to man. God has done all for man and is truly worthy of love.

    Loving God can be difficult at times due to the sacrifices and struggles that are required to remain obedient to Him. Yet God has promised many blessings that will come to the one who loves Him. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” This promise is often taken out of context and used as a promise made to all mankind. Yet this promise is made specifically to those who love God and who are the called according to His purpose. All things working together for good is a direct benefit of one’s love for God. The Kingdom is also a great blessing that is promised to those who love Him (James 2:5). The Kingdom (the church) is where salvation, Christian family, forgiveness, and hope are found for Christians. Ultimately God has promised the “crown of life” to those that love Him (James 1:12). This eternal life is a blessing that is reserved specifically for those that love God.

    Children often times have a misunderstanding of what love really is. Children will say, “I love you”, but really don’t comprehend what a parent means when they say, “I love you” back to them. The love that God has shown to man is so much exponentially greater than the love that Christians have for God. The reality is, Christians as the children of God really don’t even begin to comprehend the love that God has for them. One must strive every day to love God as He desires, to be obedient and pleasing to Him, to trust and follow Him. One’s love for God must grow stronger and deeper with ever passing day...until one day God’s love for man and man’s love for God will be fully realized in eternity.