By Benjamin H. Liles
[The expert in the law] answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself'" (Deuteronomy 6:5; Luke 10:27, Berean Study).
When I think of Loving God I think of the woman who has an encounter with Jesus. He tells her, "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:23-24, New American Standard). Are we to love God with all of who we are--"with all our heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind"--every day of our lives?
I contend that we are to do so. And when we do so it isn't a burdensome thing. You see, unlike the Israelites of the Old Testament we have a daily experience with Jesus Christ. The Old Testament declares that one day Israel will receive her Messiah, only they never recognized Jesus in that way. Clearly the prophecies in Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 talk about a suffering servant. Did not Jesus even predict the way in which He would be crucified?
If we look at specific verses, such as "Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53). Jesus was indeed crucified by the Romans, but we shouldn't forget the Jewish leaders called for the Jews to cry out, "Crucify him" (Mark 15:13). If Jesus only passed out, as Jewish sources claim, then why did He bear his wounds before the disciples? (see John 20:24-29).
Also, Psalm 22 has the famous quote, which Jesus used while passing from this world (through His atoning death) into Heaven's open arms, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Psalm 2:1). No, the Jews chose to believe Messiah would come to conquer and destroy Israel's enemies than see He came to first suffer and bear out a new kind of revolution, that change within our hearts. And there are the benefits of loving God:
1) We are thankful for what Jesus has done on our behalf. "Even in the faith with which we walk in Jesus Christ. We show we receive Heaven as our rich and exceeding reward, but it is not because of the gift that we praise and show Him our gratefulness" (Offering God Thanks).
2) We have His peace in our lives. Paul is intent on saying, "Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]” means that I shouldn’t be tossed about or even buffeted by the waves of life that seem to overwhelm and capsize the boat I’m in" (The Peace of God).
3) God's Word shows our need for Him. "Knowing this then we can see how essential it is that God's word guides us to Him. It is why David wrote, "Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth" (Psalm 119:142, God's Word Lights My Ways).
4) He desires our adoration our worship of Him. "Surely, if you're having one of those days or times where things just don't seem right or to be going your way take heart. God is a God of peace. Recall this Psalm: "He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters" (Psalm 23:2). He gives us a place of rest and peace if and when we allow Him" (Delighting in God).
5) Loving God means we're doing something in our lives. "listening means you're doing something about what you just heard. Earlier today my wife and I discussed why some people are easy to take action and why some don't. Some people find it easy to follow Jesus. Others, like myself, we kind of kick and scream. Are we any less Christ's followers? No, we're not. We just need to find our way back to Him and learn things. Remember, Jesus said, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:29, Berean Study, Listening Actively).
I can list other articles I wrote about loving God that show that by doing so we receive countless benefits. There's also Seeking Out God's Forgiveness and Thirsting for God too. Really and truly, loving God implies we thirst so much for Him we can't stay out of His word. We constantly read His word. We look to those in our Christ-centered lives for advice and in which way to go and grow. It's a desire to, as Paul puts it, "grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). This is what loving God is about. It is simply allowing ourselves to be conformed to Jesus Christ's fullness, or rather being the bride of Christ (see Ephesians 5:25-27).
Father, every day I see something new from You I need to know, to tell others about. Call it my act of worship towards You. Call it what You desire, Lord, but I do love You. I don't always model it perfectly, as I am imperfect, yet You always heal and restore me as I put my full trust in You. I ask You, Father, to help others, to show them more of You, to keep them, and to show them Your ways. They are easy and not burdensome. I will keep doing, to the best of my love and ability, to always speak Your word. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.