Perfecting Your Love for God
Stop trying to love God. That’s right, I said, “Stop trying to love God.” How can I say this? Didn’t Jesus say the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart? Yes, He did, but He never thought that you would be able to do so by “trying” your best. “By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
There is a better way. And John tells us what it is. It is to know and believe the love God has for you.
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: (1 John 4:16ff)
You see, the way your love grows and is perfected in the New Covenant is not through the law, but through the revelation of God’s love for you. The more clearly you come to know and believe the love God has for you, the more your own love for God, for yourself, and for others will grow.
This was a truth the Apostle John knew firsthand. He focused his attention on Jesus’ love for him, not his love for Jesus. In several passages in the Gospel of John, you can see that he made it a habit to focus on and remind himself continually of Jesus’ love for him.
Here are several examples.
“When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!” (John 19:26 KJV)
“The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.” (John 20:1-2 KJV)
Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?” (John 21:20 KJV)
What was the result of John focusing on God’s love for him instead of trying to love God legalistically? Of all Jesus’ disciples, John was the only one who never denied Jesus. He remained faithful throughout. And he was the one Jesus entrusted the care of His mother to!
There is a valuable lesson to be learned from both John’s words and his example. If you try to build a faithful, fruitful relationship with God by focusing on how much you love Him, you will end up denying Jesus in many ways, time and time again. Just ask Peter. But if like John you build your relationship with God by focusing on His love for you, the more established you will become in love, both for God and for others.
Here is the bottom line. Stop trying to love God legalistically. Instead, start believing the love God has for you. Start spending time in prayer and the Word daily receiving greater revelation of His love for you. And you will discover your love for God will be growing and you won’t even be trying.
Beloved, “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19 KJV)