Anyone who’s been in significant relationships knows that loving can take effort. Think marriage, business partnerships, friendships, raising children. Long-term. Sometimes hard, but worth it.
The most extraordinary relationship we have as humans is with God. Loving Him takes attentive effort mostly because He asks for nothing less than total, life-altering love. Specifically, He tells us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. How can we do that? Let’s look.
“With all your heart” means our love for God will be emotional. We’re to develop positive feelings toward Him and an intense desire for Him. We can’t manufacture those feelings, but we can help them grow in our soul and mind. Here’s how:
The soul is the place where we make decisions. We can choose to love God. After time, loving Him will become part of our very being, but we have to will it first.
Loving God with our minds involves intentionality: We can think about Him, read His Word, learn about Him, and try to understand His view of the world. The more we know about God, the more we will love Him. Love is a spontaneous response to knowing who He is.
And He wants us to do this with all our might – to make loving God the central thing in our lives, doing so with energy, persistence, and determination.
Summing up, how do we love God as He desires?
- Will it.
- Think it.
- Feel it.
- Do it with all our might.
According to Jesus, this is the most important thing. Nothing else comes close!
“The first act of love is always the giving of attention.” – Dallas Willard
Not to nitpick, but Jesus felt something else was close enough that he didn’t mention the first without the other that is quite like it.
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You’re not nitpicking! Jesus always put loving our neighbor in juxtaposition to loving God, but loving God was first. That may be because we cannot truly love our neighbor as ourselves if we don’t first learn to love God with all that we are. When we begin to love God, really love Him, loving our neighbor flows naturally.
And, stay tuned. This blog has covered teaching on loving our neighbor and will continue to do so. Loving others is a critical test of our faith and of our love for God. Thanks for your insights, John. Always right on!
You are so right on. This sums up our duty as believers. First, we love God and then others. Our love is active and it embraces our whole personality. In our culture now many emphasize love to others and seem to forget the love to God piece.Our Father links the two and puts God as a priority. Loving others flows from our love of God. It is the only way we can truly love the way He wants us to.
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Thanks for the comment, Marcia. You understand Jesus’ teaching and you live it out! I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.