You may be tempted to skip over this question, especially if you’ve been saved for a while. But the truth IS, that many people don’t really know what love is, even Christians who have been saved for a very long time.
What is love? You won’t find it in the world, that’s for sure. If you’re seeking and looking for love, you’ll be met with nothing but heartache and disappointment.
The new bride looks forward to being married. A new husband, someone to share your soul with, someone to grow old with, someone who will love you, treasure you, put your needs ahead of their own.
So you get married and within a very short period of time (usually after the honeymoon phase is over), you realize that he wasn’t what you expected him to be.
They do bad stuff. They sin. They fall short. They rebel. They are prideful. They have bad attitudes. They snap at you.
And so you’re left feeling EXTREMELY confused.
What is love then? If not being married to or having a close relationship with a fellow believer?
Why do they DO those things? HOW can they do those things and still love you?
So you go through a period of time thinking to yourself, “WOW, this person does NOT love me. They say they do, but it’s pretty clear they don’t.”
If they are a worldly Christian, meaning someone who is not walking in the Spirit, fellowshipping with God regularly, and just living for themselves, you will be hard-pressed to find true, genuine love. Yes, even Christians.
OR, you may find someone who is legalistic. Maybe they are Christian, maybe they are not, but, either way, LOVE is not a dominant characteristic. It’s RULES and regulations. Do this, don’t do that. It’s all a list of things you have to do and don’t do in order to “be godly”.
That’s not love either. And I can go on and on and on about many more examples in your life of both Christians and non-Christians not having the love of the Father in them or not practicing love, but I’m sure you know it already. You can see. You can feel when someone genuinely cares for you and when they don’t.
Here’s the thing:
ONLY GOD can truly love us perfectly.
Did you get that?
It means that if you’re looking for love out there in the world, you won’t find it.
Even the BEST of Christians, the most devout, the most holy and godly of Christians WILL fail. Why? Because we’re all sinners saved by grace and grace alone. There’s nothing inside of ourselves that can get us to Heaven. If it were based on that, NO ONE would get in. Because we ALL fail.
Are you putting two and two together yet?
That means YOU ALSO do not love your husband, your brothers, your sisters, your family, those near and dear to you as Christ wants you to. We are always at a disadvantage.
So, what can we do?
We pray. We ask God to move into every single crevice of our lives and hearts until we are completely FILLED with Him and only Him. We get to know what REAL LOVE looks like so that we CAN become vessels of HIS love to others.
We beg God for this trait. We work hard and strive to love those around us, even when they are acting unloveable. If you want help with that, live with a teenager.
Wow. Just wow! It’s rough. Sometimes it takes everything you have inside of you just to not snap. But that’s not love. Not snapping is not love. It’s just holding in and controlling ourselves. Love is an action. A choice. Something we choose to do, something we chose to give. While it can hold emotions inside of it (hugs, kissing, holding, etc.) it’s an action. It’s us saying, “I choose to love you no matter what.”
Because isn’t that what God does with us?! He doesn’t say to us, “Well, I’ll love you IF you do this or do that. IF you obey me. IF you…” There’s no conditions on His love for us, and that means we are free to love Him back because we know we’ll fail. We WILL mess up, we’ll lose it, we’ll fight, we’ll argue, we’ll rebel, but, at the end of the day, He loves us no matter how bad we get. He wants a righteous relationship with us. He’s concerned about you and your choices, and He cares.
We can love, truly, genuinely, whole-heartedly love others when HIS love is inside of us spilling out all over the place because we are so wrapped up in Him. We are walking in the Spirit, seeing things from a Godly perspective, always trying to put ourselves in His shoes so as to understand Him more and more instead of looking at life, our situations, and our relationships with others through our own fleshly eyes.
It’s then, when we are so wrapped up in Him, that we are able to begin to love others. It flows out of us in abundance for all who draw near.
So…what does it mean to love God back?
Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” To love God is to obey Him – which means we need to know our Bible because all of God’s commands are on the pages of Scripture inside our Bibles! And not only do we spend time with Him as we read our Bibles, but we also need to devote time every day to prayer and other activities that cultivate a relationship with Him.
Besides devotion, another word for love that you will see very often used in the Bible is “delight” meaning to take great pleasure in.
You may be familiar with Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” With that verse in mind, take a look at what Psalm 1:2 says, “but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
And now compare that verse with Psalm 119:97 which says, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.”
The Bible tells us how to love the Lord, AND…it’s so awesome because it tells us how to GET THERE. It’s like this massive roadmap with neon flashing lights.
Love me. Here’s how…obey me. How do you obey me? Meditate on my Word day and night. GET to know me. Fall in love with me. I’m good.
Isn’t it the most beautiful thing in the world?!?!?! 💖💎💯🎁
You’ve probably also heard of the term, *sacrificial love* before. But now this phrase can take on a new meaning for you.
Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It tells us right there that God made the ultimate sacrifice in allowing His Son to die on our behalf – that’s how He showed His LOVE to us. You see this also in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” So the answer is, yes – in order to love God in this Christian life, we are going to have to make sacrifices in order to love God.
Are we sacrificing our own pleasures in this life in order to MAKE ROOM for God in our lives?
Are we closing out loose ends that are making us spin our wheels, flying all over the place, earning us nothing except busyness and tiredness in order to obey God well? Placing HIM above our own desires?
Make sure that OUR desires line up with His precious standard.
Are we spending at LEAST 30 minutes a day with Him? Getting to know Him better, learning to love Him and others more, being a more God-filled Christian walking in the Spirit?
In all honesty, I shouldn’t have to convince you to spend time with God. If you love Him, you will. No one has to tell you to do it. You’ll just do it BECAUSE you love Him. So if you are finding yourself having all kinds of excuses of why you can’t give Him at least 30 minutes of your 24 hours of a day (and I don’t mean this in a checklist legalistic way, like, “Well, I did my 30 minutes today I’m good to go”, but more in a way that you give God your precious heart on a daily basis and put Him in control of everything every day, over and over again consistently), there’s a problem there, and we have to examine our hearts to see why we are not able or not willing to make space in our life for the One who gave us life. Oftentimes, it is because we have a lack of love for our Creator and, dare I say, for YOURSELF.
For if you love HIM more, you begin to also love yourself more. You are NOT rushing around, busying yourself. Your life becomes more about Him and His ways. You’re seeing YOU through HIS eyes, and it makes you fall more in love with the person whom He has created. Thus giving you joy and happiness knowing that you like yourself and that you’re trying your best to be who He wants you to be.
See because if you love Him, then you begin to love the things HE loves. What does He love?
When you see yourself how HE sees you, you free yourself from all the entanglements of the world. All the naysayers saying you’re not good enough or you can’t do this or that. All the people trying to push you down with their thumb. All the people trying to hold you down from flying. You expel all of that. Why? Because you see yourself, your life and everything in it, how GOD does, and YOU finally know the secret….
It’s a newfound confidence in who you are. The secret to your happiness and joy. To see yourself how God sees you, how He designed you. The secret of His love. And I call it a secret, because it is not known by most people, dare I say, many genuine believers do not even know it because they do not take the time to really spend time with God in a way that honors Him.
It’s a lot of “I went to church this Sunday. Check that off my to do list”.
But following God isn’t about a list. Remember, we are not legalists. It’s about a relationship with the one true King. And you don’t get that relationship by checking off things on a list. You get that by pouring out your heart and soul to your Creator every single day.
Truly I say to you, the worst type of life you can have is a lukewarm one. And yet, sadly, this is where many true believers live. They’ve bought a house there and taken up stock in the land of lukewarmness.
That’s not what we want and so I urge you today, to really get to know God on a much deeper level. Know Him as HE wants to be known. Because when you do, your whole…life…changes…for the good. You will see EVERYTHING differently. You will be HAPPY. You will have found Christ. There is nothing more precious to seek in our lives than that of Jesus Christ.
To sacrifice also means to cast aside. 1 Peter 2:1 says, “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” In order to love God and obey Him, we’re going to need to put away, cast aside – or STOP all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander.
Philippians 4:6 – here it says that we need to stop being anxious in order to obey Christ, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Proverbs 3:5- here we are instructed not to lean on our own understanding, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
The more you learn about God through His Word and the more time you spend with Him in prayer, the more you will learn to love Him and want to sacrifice more for Him.
One last thing I want to hit on before I close. Let’s take a look at 1 Corinthians 8:3, “we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.”
The more knowledge we have ABOUT Christ, the more it puffs up our ego’s. I know people who, are VERY prideful because they know a lot about God. But as they DO know a lot ABOUT God, they are not really loving people. It’s all about the conquest of knowing something to know it.
It is far better to know LESS about God, and to do it with LOVE, than to know MORE just to gain accolades by how much you know.
We all know people in our lives who are like that. So if you’re thinking anywhere within this post I’ve said, know as much as you can about God, that’s not the point of it all. The rewards system: Heaven isn’t based on who knows the most about God.
The rewards system is based on whether or not we have graciously accepted His FREE GIFT of salvation in our lives, and then to line our lives up to being the most godly Christian we can be. Yes, knowing more about God helps. The more we know, the better we can have love, give love, and be loving toward God and man, but it’s not all about knowing the most.
And I’ve heard people say, “Well, you should memorize your Bible as much as possible because it’s the only way you can’t lose it.” You can lose your Bible, maybe in a fire, they say, but you can’t lose your knowledge of the Lord.
Yet I tell you the truth, many people lose their knowledge of the Lord every single day. Tell me right now, everything you learned about God last year. I can guarantee you, you’ve forgotten some and will need to be reminded.
What about those that age and lose memory? What about amnesia?
If you think that collecting up knowledge is the way to go, it’s not.
But I will tell you this. Collecting God’s law in your HEART, now THAT’S something that can never be taken away.
See, when you leave this earth, you will lose your brain. Your brain dies. But your heart, your soul, you take that with you.
So it is NOT about gaining as much knowledge as you can. It is about the heart. Loving and learning to love with your heart. Your heart is what lives forever, it’s what no one can take away from you (unless you let them). Your heart is the most precious. Not knowledge or education. But an experiential heart attitude toward Christ, a relationship. That is far more important. And what do you love with? Your brain or your heart?
Love God with your heart. Yes, love Him with your mind too, but if you have to chose one or the other to invest in more, the heart is more important since it follows with you even after death.
Invest in your heart. Love God with your heart.