Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” – Matthew 22:37
We have all heard this commandment. But the question that I have been thinking about a lot lately is this: How do we love God? How do we actually do it? It certainly isn’t a matter of decision. It is part of it, but like the great theologian George Strait said, “You can’t make a heart love somebody.”
If I told you that I loved my wife more than I loved her when we met 22 years ago and spoke of how our love has grown, you might immediately make the same mistake I would make if you told me the same thing. You might would think that I mustered up some kind of fortitude and have simply held firm to the decision I made to love her when we got married. I might would even be tempted to accept that praise. But the truth is that I’ve simply spent time with her. A lot of that time has turned into quality time. I’ve experienced her love. I know what it is like to miss her when she is gone. We have had an amazing 22 years and I would love to find out what our relationship is like after 22 more.
I have been a Christ follower for 31 years now. The first few of those years I lived in fear of God. In my mind, I was a lousy follower, He was angry at me, and in my mind, He constantly had His rod raised to strike me down. I did not love Him because I saw Him as a harsh taskmaster. I did not like the alternative of eternity in Hell, so I just kept trudging along going to church and living a defeated life.
Why in the world did I think like this? Nothing could have been further from the truth. The answer is a simple one: I didn’t know Him.
The day I picked up my Bible to read the entire thing was the day my life began to change. It took me 15 months to read through the Bible. I didn’t understand most of it, but I understood enough to know that He loved me. I understood enough that He was not interested in punishing me, but He was interested in changing my heart and my mind. Slowly, over time, I began to say that I loved Him more as each year went by. I’ve done things only because He asked me to that I never would have done on my own. Those things have produced blessings in my life that I would never have received otherwise. How can I not love Him?
There is this infinite cycle that I believe is created when you give your life to God and begin to live for Him. The cycle has three parts, and each part constantly grows and constantly keeps moving. First, you get to know Him . . . through reading the Word, through solid preachers, and through conversations with other believers. That knowledge will produce love. You can’t read John 8:1-11 and not love Him. You can’t help but think, “Is this really the way He treats me?” Then, that love that has grown inside of you for Him absolutely makes you want to serve Him. You want to go out and shine your light before men. God is no longer a have to, but a want to. As you learn, you will grow. As you grow, you will love. As you love, you will serve.
Lord, never for a single moment have you been loved by a human as you ought to be loved. But as You live, I want to grow in my love for You. I want to meet the greatest commandment to love the Lord with all my heart. The angels who are close to You constantly cry “Holy, Holy, Holy.” They must know things I don’t and have experienced things that I haven’t. Help me to stay in the circle of learning about You, loving You, and serving You. You are the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. Amen.