Love the Lord your God (part 3)
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Mt. 22:37
Seeing the glory of God which begets love to him must be followed by admiration. The devil has a perfect sight of the glory of God and he hates him. But a lover admires the object of his or her affection. Or, to put it another way, love is inseparable from worship. To love God is to worship him, to admire him, to reverence him. It is to feel that God is indeed worthy of my praise. Not just the knowledge that I’m supposed to do it, but the inner compulsion to do it. It’s the difference between a rebel who is being forced to bend the knee to his king and the loyal subject whose love for his king brings him willingly to his knees before his sovereign. The first line of the Lord’s Prayer should never have to be forced out of the lips of those who love him: “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed by thy name.”
And then admiration must be followed by enjoyment. If seeing the glory of God begets admiration, and admiration worship, then it must be followed by enjoyment. I don’t know of a single person who doesn’t like to be in the presence of someone they love. If you love someone, you enjoy their company, fellowship, and conversation. You want them to be a part of your life. The psalmist put it this way, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works” (Ps. 73:25-28). There is a holy joy that those who love God experience through their knowledge of him and fellowship with him. This is why those who say they love God and yet never read his word or spend any time in prayer are fooling themselves. What would you say of a husband who never wanted to talk to his wife or to listen to what she has to say and yet claimed to love her? What would you say of a wife who couldn’t stand to be in the presence of her husband? You certainly would have a hard time believing that she loved her husband. Simply put, you want to be with those whom you love because love is inseparable from the enjoyment of the object of one’s affection. A glutton loves food and therefore keeps company with the pantry, a sluggard loves sleep and keeps company with his pillow, and a saint loves God and keeps company with his Maker and Redeemer.
Enjoyment is also accompanied by a desire to please those whom one loves. This is why Jesus said to his disciples, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (Jn. 15:14). And, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15). A person who goes around trying to make life miserable for someone else is certainly not showing love. And there is nothing that breaks God’s heart more surely than sin. Why did God destroy the world in Noah’s day? It was because “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart” (Gen. 6:5-6). Knowing how much God hates sin ought to cause those who love him to put the brakes on the commission of sin.
This is why the apostle John insisted that those who are living in sin and yet say they have fellowship with God are not telling the truth. It is impossible for God who is light and in whom is no darkness at all to have fellowship with those who think sin is sweet and who anticipate their dalliances with disobedience. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:6-7).
This is why when we have fallen into sin or have lapsed into a state of spiritual lethargy and worldliness, the very first thing you need to do is to pray for God to forgive your sin through Christ, and then the next thing you need to do is to repent and to strive with all your might against the sins in your life. Do you want to walk with God? Do you want to enjoy his fellowship? Do you want to please him? Then you must mortify the sins in your heart. You must give them no quarter. “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil” (Ps. 97:10). To love God you must hate sin. Love to God does not trump hate, when hate is directed toward wickedness.
And then love produces hope. If you love someone, there is a tremendous amount of hope invested in that person. As the apostle Paul put it, “Love hopeth all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). One of the things that makes rejected love so difficult is that is dashes so many hopes. But with respect to God, we know that “hope maketh not ashamed” (Rom. 5:5).
Those who love God have banked their hopes upon him – their hope for joy and peace and security and grace and mercy and immortality. As opposed to this world. As opposed to the pleasures of sin for a season. As opposed to temporary comfort and peace and security. Our hope is in God more than in anyone or anything else.
And then finally this love must be with all the heart. We must not cherish some secret sin in the dark corners of our heart. If love is to be universal, then so must our obedience. God doesn’t just want a part of your heart, he wants all of it. Love for God must have our will and affections, so that our choices are directed by love to God. Love to God must have our mind, so that every thought is taken captive to the obedience of Christ. We need to be able to say with the psalmist, “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments” (Ps. 119:10).