Last night, as we prayed over our family’s Valentine’s dinner, we mentioned that we are so thankful to God that He is the origination and perfect example of love. All that we try to accomplish in this area as humans is at best a far cry from how God loves us–in a completely unconditionally, no strings attached, eternally crazy about us way.
How can we possibly love God back enough? Loving Him of our own free will is the cornerstone of our Christian walk, and sometimes we need some concrete ways to show it.
Here are 5 ways to love God…back.
1. Create Space In Your Life For Him
More than just the hour in your seat Sunday morning, with the familiar cadence of your church’s program, you can invite God into your daily life, your daily hours. When you open your time, feelings and thoughts up to Him, you allow him to move in your mundane–creating pockets of clarity, direction, words spoken in circumstances.
It could be pausing before responding to a child’s emotional outburst, and sending up a silent “Help! How do I handle this better than the thirty other times this has happened?” Or, listening to that nudge to talk to the neighbor in the grocery store who really, really needed to know someone cared enough to ask how she was doing. Or, at work, inviting God into a difficult and challenging relationship–asking for his direction on how to handle it.
God created us to be in relationship with Him, and when we shut him out, barreling through life on our own strength and brokenness, we aren’t doing our best to love Him back.
Love God by inviting him into all of your circumstances.
2. Realize Your Brokenness
I mentioned the word brokenness in my last response. It is the crux of our understanding of what Christ’s death on the cross meant. If we fail to grasp that we are sinful people, all of us, and we need a redeemer, then the blood shed by the Son of God is meaningless. We can love God but admitting that we need redemption, that we need the crucifixion to connect our imperfect selves to our perfect God.
Yet, how many of us continue to live in a prideful place, fighting back whenever we are called out on our brokenness? How many of us feel that admitting we are wrong means we’ve lost? My daughter and I were having a conversation the other day about her arguing with me. She, in her incredibly astute self-awareness said, “Mom, I know I am wrong sometimes, but I don’t like to tell you because I don’t feeling like I’ve lost.” (She’s my little warrior).
Ah-hem. Yep, been there my whole life. Admitting we are wrong is so difficult, but in our failure to do so, we deny our redeemer to do what he does best! Redeem.
Love God by letting him redeem you.
3. Have an Attitude of Love In All We Do
Why do you make the decisions you do?
If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them and could speak in every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn’t love others, I would only be making noise. If I had the gift of prophecy and knew all about what is going to happen in the future, knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would it do? Even if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, I would still be worth nothing at all without love. If I gave everything I have to poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever. ~1 Corinthians 13:1-3Living Bible (TLB)
This verse speaks to those who do great things but for the wrong reasons. We should take every decision to do good and filter it through this thought:
“Am I doing this out of love, or something else, like guilt, people pleasing, peer pressure, our own striving to look good, etc?”
If it’s not done with God’s nudging and a joyful loving heart, don’t do it.
God values love above all else, and those in the bible who experienced Jesus’s wrath in the full were the Pharisees who presented well on the outside but had empty hearts.
We love God by acting out of love in our lives.
4. Obey His Commands
So it’s probably easy for you not to steal from Old Navy or Best Buy, or maybe it doesn’t seem difficult to stay faithful in your marriage, and murdering someone on your way to the grocery store seems highly unlikely. But what about some of the more subtle things God asks of us:
Do not be lazy, do not covet, do not gossip, be honest at all times, manage your money well (ie, do not overspend), do not have any idols before him (Starbucks anyone?), use self-control, be pure sexually, take care of widows and orphans (can you name any you are currently caring for?), resist temptation, love others more than yourself…and the list goes on.
I do not accomplish all of those perfectly ANY DAY. So I can always work on loving God better.
But if someone has obeyed God’s teaching, than in that person God’s love has truly reached its goal. ~ 1John 2:5 NCV
5. Love God Through Prayer and Reading the Bible.
When we sit before God and ask him to speak into our heart, our day, our thoughts, we find relationship! And when we read His divinely inspired word, that is living and sharper than a two-edged sword, we find treasures of hope, wisdom, guidance, and what I love the most, we learn about the God who created us and loves us more than we can imagine.
That is loving God. To seek and to know Him.
Blessings to you this Valentine’s weekend!