I’m gonna try something new, and write on a monthly theme. This month’s theme is Loving God and My Neighbor. If it goes well, (You like it, and I do too.) then maybe I will try it again next month. At the rate, I am going, it may run into March too.
I am a bit of a knowledge junky, so what you will get here is some ideas on how to love the particular person as well as me interacting and telling you how I’ve personally found loving that person difficult or hard and how I have pushed past it or not. Also, included in this new way will be “head” sections for learning and knowledge and “heart” sections for application and pondering how, why, and what it practically looks like from a real perspective.
Loving God from the Head
The Great Commandment is found in Matthew 22:36-40,
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
All of the commandments, everything we are called to do and be, hinge on loving — loving God and loving others. It becomes very important to understand what it means to love God and to love others. In context, the word “love” means, “you shall be loving, actively doing what the Lord prefers, with Him, as defined by Him, through an act of the will or choice.”
In one way, this very commandment is a conundrum! We cannot know how to love God if we do not know something of who God is and what kind of person He is. I think that’s why John says in 1 John 4:19,
“We love because he first loved us.”
How does that meet up with verses like Jeremiah 29:13,
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart”?
There is something amazing about setting your mind, will, or inner self on God. Many a man and many a woman have read the Bible and found nothing but knowledge, and sometimes knowledge without understanding.
Proverbs give us a key to loving God:
Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Proverbs 1:7
My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-5
But when we seek to really know God Himself as a Person, He will be found by us! He does not deny those who seek intimacy with Him (though there are certainly times when it feels that He does).
Key ways to first love God are by reading His word, prayer, obedience/submission, and rest.
Reading His Word as His love letter to you helps you to know Him more.
When you pray, you learn to trust Him and open up communication to listen to Him. I am still learning how to pray, but God has brought prayer as a theme into my life this year. Prayer can be simple as talking to a friend, but it is important to remember to respect Him (fear Him) and know that not all people are friends of God. You can ask Him questions, and you can converse and dialogue with Him as you read His Word.
Obedience is more important than we often understand. God is a being, and He embodies all of His character at all times. While we are called “human beings,” we do not embody all that we believe unless we do the things we say we believe. Doing what He commands shows Him and you the true nature of your heart. Sometimes, we do in order to be righteous. We try to earn favor. But like Abraham, we are righteous because of our belief. However, if we truly believe what we say we do, our actions have to follow.
Because obedience is always active, resting in Him, finding your identity and resting in who God says you are, as well as resting for service to Him is always an act of love both to Him and to you. Resting is a form of believing and dwelling.
As you grow deeper in knowledge and thus deeper in love of God (always taking knowledge of God over knowledge for knowledge’s sake), you may grow deeper in the various disciplines of God like fasting, solitude, service, etc, which help you to love God more and more. While you may seek God and find Him, as you grow up more and more, you will find that you are not in charge of leading the way, but that God Himself is and always was.
Loving God by Heart
The way to move head knowledge from the head to the heart is to wrestle with it, to come to it vulnerably, with questions, asking yourself and God, “What does this look like in my life?” However, it is important to believe that the knowledge is true no matter how untrue it may feel when you wrestle with it. So you pose questions to dig deeper into your core belief.
There have been times when I allowed experience to dictate who I thought God was and whether or not He was really loving. Guess what? That didn’t go so well! I placed things in the wrong order. For example, I might have said, “God must not love me if He did not do ________ for me.” What is true is that God loves at all times which His Word tells me. The Word is not relative to me and “my internal truth.” Sometimes, wrong belief translated to an impure motive as well.
Because of that and because of the evil in my heart, I have not always loved God or myself well. I let feelings determine my heart truths. I was lost and confused. But even though my love for God did not measure up, He continued to love and pursue me anyway. Because He loves us first. Because of that, I did eventually come around to God’s way.
Has loving God been difficult? In hard, desert seasons, yes, I felt unsure of how to love God. I did not always push past it through my own efforts, but with God’s time and patience I did. However, good resources for these seasons are Psalm 40, Psalm 42, and Psalm 43, and many of the other psalms. One single way to keep going is simply to praise Him. In seasons of obedience and fruitfulness and belief, loving God is easy, because who is like our God?
If you want to dig deeper, you may enjoy these posts:
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