Look you young people, if you want to steer away from trouble, be hard-boiled. Be quick w/a good loud “no” to anyone and everyone. If you follow this rule, you will seldom be bothered as you tread life’s pathway. Except you’ll have no friends, you’ll be lonely, and you won’t have any fun!”
We have been talking about love over the last three weeks and while we have discussed several aspects of love relationships we have yet to fully devote time to the way we are to love God.
At the height of his ministry and popularity Jesus found his greatest opposition to be from the religious leaders of the day. In fact many of them hated Jesus because he didn’t do things according to their traditions and the popularity of Jesus’ love based ministry threatened to bring imminent change.
Hoping to trap Jesus and turn the crowd against him the religious leaders asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. In typical Christ like fashion he didn’t reply the way they expected but he did give the correct answer. It is this answer that teaches us how we are to love God.
37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
Loving God with all of your heart, soul and mind literally means loving Him with all that you are. I want to put the focus of this lesson on loving God with all your heart because your heart is the source of all your emotions.
What does it mean to love God with all your heart?
It means to love God will all of your character. Each of us at some point has been in a relationship where we didn’t show our “true colors” to the other person involved. We didn’t allow that person to see our real character. We can’t be that way with God because he created us and already knows our true nature/character. There is no fooling God and no holding anything back because he already sees and knows all. So why not love Him with all of your emotion.
Love God through your joy.
It’s easy to love God when things are going great. Even the most ungodly will stand before thousands and thank God when the win an award but loving God through your joy is more than just acknowledgment it’s a way of life! Look at what Jesus said.
10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
Joy has nothing to do with material things, or with a man’s outward circumstance...A man living in the lap of luxury can be wretched, and a man in the depths of poverty can overflow with joy. - William Barclay (1907 - 1978)
There’s a huge difference between joy and excitement. Often we confuse them thinking that because we heard a good sermon, sang our favorite song, read a passage, got a promotion or experienced something else that brings about a sense of excitement that we have joy but joy is lived not experienced.
Joy stems from love and is completed in the person of Jesus Christ. Loving God with all your heart means seeking to not only live in joy but to share your joy and its source every day.
Love God through your sorrow.
Here we have the exact opposite issue than we do with joy. Sorrow is a part of life but for some reason when we experience it we want to get mad at God, the church and Christianity as a whole. Everyone experiences pain and sorrow but not everyone has learned to love God through them.
Look at Job’s complaint about the condition of his life and then his response towards his own complaint.
Job 19:7-21, 25
7 "Though I cry, 'I've been wronged!' I get no response; though I call for help, there is no justice.
8 He has blocked my way so I cannot pass; he has shrouded my paths in darkness.
9 He has stripped me of my honor and removed the crown from my head.
10 He tears me down on every side till I am gone; he uproots my hope like a tree.
11 His anger burns against me; he counts me among his enemies.
12 His troops advance in force; they build a siege ramp against me and encamp around my tent.
13 "He has alienated my brothers from me; my acquaintances are completely estranged from me.
14 My kinsmen have gone away; my friends have forgotten me.
15 My guests and my maidservants count me a stranger; they look upon me as an alien.
16 I summon my servant, but he does not answer, though I beg him with my own mouth.
17 My breath is offensive to my wife; I am loathsome to my own brothers.
18 Even the little boys scorn me; when I appear, they ridicule me.
19 All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me.
20 I am nothing but skin and bones; I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth.
21 "Have pity on me, my friends, have pity, for the hand of God has struck me.
25 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
Job got it that there was something bigger than his sorrow. To him it was never a question of control. He didn’t look to make excuses or cast blame even though there was a group of people around him begging him to do so. Instead he stated his situation for the world to hear and then proclaimed his trust in God, his redeemer, being in control.
Loving God through your sorrow means using your experiences to show others your true self and genuine faith in God because it will allow others to do the same.
Dr.Claude H. Barlow was a missionary to China and one of the most revered foreigners to work in that land. When a strange disease for which he knew no remedy was killing people Dr. Barlow sought for a way to fight it. There were no research laboratories for this disease, so Dr.Barlow conducted his own research. He studied the disease, filling a notebook with his observations. He then procured a vial of disease germs and sailed for the United States. Before he arrived, he took the germs into his own body, and then went to the John Hopkins University Hospital to be observed. Claude Barlow was very sick now. He allowed his old professors at John Hopkins to use him for experimentation. A cure was found, which a healthy Claude Barlow took back to China with him.
His efforts saved countless lives.
We would never be able to minister to others during their time of sorrow if we never experienced sorrow ourselves.
Love God with full surrender.
Here’s the problem that keeps people from living a Godly lifestyle. It’s the same problem that prevents us from experiencing true worship. I’m talking about a heart that hasn’t been surrendered to God.
There are people who will not come to faith in Christ simply because they don’t want to surrender their hearts. If they did it would mean a change in lifestyle, a change in their thinking process and a change in the way they view God.
A fully surrendered heart will say yes to God when it really doesn’t want to. We see that in the life of Jesus as he was agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was so torn between his own will and the will of God that it caused him to sweat drops of blood.
38Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."
39Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
That’s surrender! “God, I don’t want to give up my life of immorality but not as I will, but as you will.”
Love God by modeling Christ.
As in most everything else in life Jesus modeled for us what it looks like to love God with all your heart. All we have do then is model Christ in the way he loved God without holding back.