Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Part 3: BECOMING A GREAT LOVER OF GOD
Last week we looked at what it really means to pursue love in the various relationships God has established in our lives. It is something God wants us to pursue with all of our hearts.The Greek word for pursue, as we learnt in part 1, is "DIOKO", which is the same word Paul used in Philippians where he said, "I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me". It is a strong word that denotes to pursue without hostility and to eagerly seek after.
“Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.”(1 Corinthians 14:1)
“But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.”(1 Corinthians 12:31)
In part 2 we leant about the supernatural power of love and we discovered that the Christian faith comprises of encountering the love of the Father; love as a transforming power; and you as an expression of God’s love.
Today I want to talk about what it really means to love God and how to become a great lover of God. This is the first and great commandment that God gave to us to obey.
He first loved us
“We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' "This is the first and great commandment.” (Matthew 22:36-38)
Four areas on how we are to show our love to God:
“So he answered and said, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)
You shall love the Lord your God:
· with all your heart – your emotional nature
· with all your soul – your willing nature
· with all your strength – your physical nature
· with all your mind – your intellectual nature
If we fail to love God in each of these areas we become unbalanced in our love towards God and it shows in our relationships with the people God has put in our lives.
For example if you love God with your entire mind but not with your whole heart then you may be an intellectualist and a legalist in your approach towards God and others. Should you love Him with all your heart but not with all your mind, you may be a sentimentalist in religion, governed by your feelings which will be expressed in excess affection or sentiment. If you love Him with a strong will yet with weak emotions, you will be a man of iron who is not very approachable. When we love God with all of our heart (emotions), our whole soul (will), all our physical strength and our whole mind then we will be Christians, who are balanced, full of godly character and who truly love God as He has commanded us to.
1. Loving the Lord With All of Our Heart
For some people the emotional side of love comes very easy. Their personality is of such a nature that it comes naturally yet for some of us this is not so easy. May God deliver us from our cultural foundation which says that men should not cry or express their emotions publically!
How is it that we can love God emotionally? I believe that this love comes through a genuine appreciation for being forgiven. As we grow in the Lord this love comes through praise and worship as we open our hearts and adore God.
**To adore means to worship or honor as deity, or as divine, to regard with reverent admiration and devotion: to be extremely fond of.
“And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.” (Luke 7:37-38)
This woman had real remorse and godly sorrow for her sins. A humble and contrite heart results in humble service towards Christ.
We read in the text that the woman was emotional in her love and devotion towards Christ. She simply threw herself at Christ's feet and wasn't afraid to lose her dignity in Christ's presence.
How many of us often find ourselves like the Pharisees in Christ's presence, aloof and disengaged while playing intellectual games with Him? As we seek to spend time in personal worship to Him our hardened hearts will soften towards Him.
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice...” (Psalms 95:6-7)
“It is good to give thanks to the LORD, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your loving-kindness in the morning, And Your faithfulness every night on an instrument of ten strings, On the lute, And on the harp, With harmonious sound. For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands.” Psalms 92:1-4
It is through praise and worship that we are drawn into God's loving-kindness and into His presence. Worship draws us close to His bosom. The following two scriptures illustrate to us the intimacy and warmth that Jesus desires to have with us on the emotional level.
“He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11)
“Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” (John 13:23)
2. Loving the Lord with All of Our Soul
Loving the Lord with all of our soul is our willingness to obey Him and follow Him in the things that He has purposed for our lives.
Many times David cried out for His soul to submit to God.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” (Psalms 42:5)
Jesus talked about loving Him on many times. He said, “If you love Me, keep my commandments”. This is a love coming that flows from our will.
"If you love Me, keep My commandments. "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever…” (John 14:15-16)
“Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:22-23)
In the example of Peter, loving God with all our soul helps us to be committed to Him.
“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs." He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep.” (John 21:15-17)
3. Loving the Lord with All of Our Mind
As we have already seen, to love the Lord with all of our minds has to do with our intellect. We should have a love for God's word because it is through His word that our mind (intellect) is renewed.
“I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.” (Psalms 119:16)
“Your word is very pure; Therefore Your servant loves it.” (Psalms 119:140)
In Luke we read that Mary sought a deeper relationship with Jesus. Her devotion and love for Jesus caused her to want to sit at His feet and hear His word. Her heart was consumed with a desire to fill her mind with His word. What we see here is a picture of someone loving Jesus from heart-felt warmth and a loving desire for His word as well.
“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me." And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
To love Jesus and His word is also to hate those things that destroy His love.
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)
We are to abhor that which is evil, because causes our hearts to grow cold. I wonder how many of us are not as sincere in our love and devotion to Christ, because we have allowed evil influences to take root in our lives.
4. Loving the Lord with All Our Strength
God also wants us to love Him with our bodies. This means we dedicate the strength of our bodies to Him for His glory and purposes.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1
The Apostle Paul's example:
“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)
To genuinely pursue our loving God involves loving Him in all of these areas of ourselves (us in full).
“How lovely is Your tabernacle, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” (Psalms 84:1-2)
When we fail to love God completely we open ourselves up to deception, imbalance and wrong motives hindering the purposes of God. Friends let’s strive to be complete and well balanced Christians in pursuing God and His love.
"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment!!”