If any of us were to ask ourselves if we truly love God, most would answer in the affirmative. We confidently declare our love and devotion for God through hymns like, “O How I Love Jesus”, “Have Thine Own Way” and “I Surrender All”.
It is easy to profess with our lips that we love someone. But mere words of love are not enough. The Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples that loving Him means obeying His Word: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14: 15).
If we say we love God, our words and actions must clearly reflect that love:
1. We must be willing to give up things that are dear to us
We are all familiar with the account of the rich man who was not prepared to part with his “great possessions” to follow Christ (Matt. 19: 22; Mk. 10: 22). On the contrary, the patriarch, Abraham, when commanded by God to offer up “thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest”, did not hesitate to obey Him. The decision to sacrifice his son of his old age and rightful heir must have been painful for Abraham. But the faithful patriarch – his mind firmly set on doing God’s will – passed the test of love and obedience.
2. We must love our brethren
The apostle John exhorts us to prove our love for God by loving our brethren: “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? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments” (I Jn. 4: 20-22). Our love for the Lord should be the basis of our relationships with others. Love is the fulfilling of the law, and is manifested in the way we treat our brethren (Rom. 13: 10).
Love is best reflected through a life of obedience to God and a love for others. How do we know whether we truly love God? Let us consider the following pertinent questions:
o Do we love the presence of God?
People deeply in love with one another long to spend time together. They cannot bear to be apart. One who loves God desires to be with Him – to feed on His Word and to commune with Him in prayer. Do we daily seek the sweet reassuring presence of God in our lives? Do we delight in His presence?
David, the man after God’s own heart, yearned for the comforting and blessed presence of God: “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God” (Ps. 84: 2). A fugitive relentlessly pursued by his enemy Saul, David longed to savour the courts of the Lord and the joy of His presence. If we truly love the Lord, we, too, will desire to be in the sanctuary of God. Do we, like the psalmist, find God’s house “amiable” and long to be there each Sabbath (Ps. 84: 1)?
o Do we love God’s Word?
One who professes to love God will also love His Word. The psalmist, David, prized God’s Word above all things. To him, God’s Word was “sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Ps. 119: 103) and “better unto me than thousands of gold and silver” (Ps. 119: 103). His delight is “in thy commandments, which I have loved” (Ps. 119: 47).
“The lines of Scripture are richer than the mines of gold. Well may we love the Word; it is the load-star that directs us to heaven, it is the field in which the Pearl is hid. That man who does not love the Word, but thinks it too strict and could wish any part of the Bible torn out (as an adulterer did the seventh commandment), he has not the least spark of love in his heart” (Thomas Watson).
o Are we concerned about grieving God?
A child who loves his father is afraid of displeasing him. When Peter denied Christ, the erring disciple “went out and wept bitterly” (Matt. 26: 75). Peter realised that his Master had loved him dearly. That he had denied his beloved Lord broke Peter’s heart and he wept bitter tears of repentance.
Our love for God will cause us to have that godly fear in our heart lest we sin and grieve His Spirit. With a conscience made tender by the Holy Spirit, we will be troubled by any known sin. Our constant prayer will be: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139: 23-24).
Brethren, do our words and actions reflect our love for God? If we love Him, we will love His presence and His Word. We will delight to be in God’s house each Lord’s Day. We will also not allow sin to dominate our lives lest we grieve the God we love. May the Lord grant us grace to manifest our love for Him in our daily lives. (… to be continued)