1 Corinthians 13:1-3 tells us that without love, all the obedient acts of disciples are worthless. Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:34-40 that the two greatest commandments are to love God and people.
What's your next step in loving God? You may respond . . .
- I think I love God, but I don't really think about it that much. How do I know how much I love God?
- I definitely love God, but how do I grow in that area?
- I'm not opposed to God, but I haven't thought of God in that way before.
How we respond to the command to love God tells something about what we think about God. We might think think God doesn't really care about our love of him but only wants our obedience?
If your buy your significant other a precious gift and tell them, "It was my duty and job to give you gifts." That doesn't show the other person value. Value is ascribed by affections. Instead, we might say, "Every time I see you my heart skips a beat! I am so in love with you and will love you eternally. Thank you for being in my life." This displays affection and ascribes value to the other person.
The same is true of God. The preacher John Piper says, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him." We ascribe more value to God not when we merely obey him out of a sense of duty but when we are satisfied for him, loving him and taking joy in obedience.
What happens in your heart when you remember God in tough situations? Do you cringe and feel guilty? Does thought of God conjure affection and a desire to obey God more? Love always includes affection. Love God and love the things God loves.
We can't grow in love for God if our heart is full of other things (1 John 2:15-16). When we love other things and fill our life with the pursuit of those things, we feel full and not hungry for God. We fill our delight in things other than God. This is why Christianity thrives in persecution. All other desires are stripped away, and Christians are left with nothing but their complete satisfaction in God alone. Don't let a good crisis go to waste. It is an opportunity to grow in affection for God.
How do I take my next step in showing God love?
- List the blessings God has given you. Remind yourself continually of who He is.
- Find places where you forget him most because you are already full and don't feel hungry. In what seasons or areas of your life are you least hungry for God?
- Love God through loving people.
How do I love people? John 13:35 says, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." This means that if we're part of a disciple-making movement, it has to be abundantly clear that we love each other. It should be so obvious that it catches people's attention and causes them to ask questions.
Further, loving is, according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,
- Patient: The world will notice that we don't lose our patience with each other.
- Kind: We're kind even when it doesn't make sense to be kind to one another.
- Envy: We aren't secretly wishing we had what other people have.
- Not boastful, arrogant, or rude: Our greatest hope is not found in our status or possessions. We aren't consumed with trying to elevate ourselves or outdo each other.
- Does not insist on its own way: We humbly accept better ideas or criticism, deferring to each other instead of being offended.
- Not Irritable or resentful: When people don't act rightly, we don't respond with irritation and resentment.
- Not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth: We don't spitefully say, "he deserved that" or retaliate in anger. When someone else falls because of wrongdoing, we don't celebrate.
- Bears all things: We don't give up on each other or become impatient with another's growth.
- Believes all things: We don't grow suspicious of each other.
- Hopes all things: Rests on the work of God, expecting great things from God as he uses his people for his mission of creating disciples.
- Endures all things: We love others even when it's never reciprocated. No matter what you do, I will always love you.
That is how the world sees that we are Jesus' disciples. You can't stop a movement like that. The greatest joy in God is expressed in love for each other. Our community will come to know us as the most loving and generous group of people they know.