Being born into a Christian family I don’t ever remember a time when I didn’t love the Lord. I grew up going to church regularly, saying my prayers before bed, and reading my bible every once in a while. I would often even tell God and others how much I loved Him. There was never a question in my mind as to whether I truly loved God or not. Of course I loved Him, He was God. This “love” I had for God stemmed from the fact that I believed in Him and simply felt love for Jesus. What I didn’t realize (for the majority of my life) was that I was loving God by my definition of what love is and not His.
As followers of Christ, we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37), but what does that really mean? Isn’t love expressed differently by different people? Does that simply mean feeling love in your heart for the Lord? To answer these questions we first need to understand that there are two very different definitions of love. One is from the world and the other is from God.
TO THE WORLD LOVE IS A FEELING, TO GOD LOVE IS AN ACT
Since we live in a fallen world, which tends to distort the truth, it should come as no surprise that the world’s understanding of love is skewed. To the world, love is an intense feeling. An individual’s emotions set the standard by which love is measured. The problem with this paradigm is that feelings are constantly changing, therefore the standard is continually shifting. This is why as Christian women, we don’t use our emotions as our navigation system through life. We receive our direction from the unchanging word of God (Luke 21:33, Isaiah 40:8). And ladies, God is very clear about what love is and what loving Him entails:
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” John 14:23-24
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” 1 John 5:3
Using God’s standards, I see now that for most of my life, I didn’t really love God. I deceived myself by loving Him in word, but not in deed or truth (1 John 3:18, James 1:22). I believed this lie because my view of love was formed by a worldly, not a biblical perspective. We don’t show God that we love Him by saying three little words every now and then. We show Him our love by being obedient to His Word, following His commandments, and living our lives the way He lived His on earth. This doesn’t mean we can’t “feel” love for God, but that our love for Christ is not merely words or a feeling, but an action.
For 23 years of my life, I made the mistake in thinking that I knew God and what He expected from me just because I came from a Christian family and grew up going to church. I wasn’t implementing God’s word in my life because I really didn’t know His Word (even though I thought I did), and I wasn’t asking Him for the strength to abide in it. It was only when I sincerely starting seeking the Lord, by reading the Word every day and spending alone time with God in prayer and worship, that I entered into a real relationship with the living God. For the first time in my life, I truly started to understand what loving God really looks like.
If you don’t know a lot about God, I don’t want you to be discouraged. We serve such a good and gracious God! He knows learning His Word is a process, and that you’re going to mess up. That’s why He went to the cross. He doesn’t demand perfection from any of us, just obedience. He is waiting to meet you exactly where you are today in your life (James 4:8). After you finish reading this, go talk to God in sincere prayer, then open your Bible and spend some sweet time alone with our Lord getting to know Him better. The time is now for so many of us to stop just saying that we love God, and start showing Him that we actually do. Let’s strive to keep and honor His word in all aspects of our lives so that He will be able to hear, “I love You, Lord” without us uttering a word.