By Jessica Brest
Love can be a tricky quality. Many of us already know that it is more than an emotion—that it is constituted by intentional actions for the good of the one being loved. Despite this, the way we love our spouse or friend can look vastly different from the way we love God.
Loving our significant other is often filled with quality time together. It manifests in hugs and loving words, gifts and service, respect and honor. How does our time with God normally look?
Loving God for many Christians today looks like praying once (maybe twice) a day. It often involves reading our Bibles once a week and forgetting the scriptures that stand out most to us by the very next day. It means not fully being able to answer questions about what God likes and dislikes and about how He works in our world.
While loving God should look different from loving our imperfect spouse, it should never look so different that it does not look like love at all. Remember that Jesus Himself stated: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” (Matthew 22:37). Jesus lists this as the primary command while the secondary one is to love our neighbors as ourselves. If this is the order we are to love, then loving God should look even more grand and intimate than loving our spouse! Considering this isn’t the case for many of us, how can we make it happen? What does loving a non-physical God so deeply look like?
Here are some steps to loving God well:
1. Loving God means Seeking to Know Him
Firstly, loving God requires that you learn more about Him—this will help you love Him best. How are you to love a person you know nothing about? Luckily, God provides simple ways to do this such as reading your Bible in order to understand who He is, what He stands for, and His story. Praying is another way to learn about God as it teaches us to recognize His voice over the voices of the world. Understanding when He speaks to us and what He is saying to us shows us His personality. Lastly, talking to others about God can help open your eyes to attributes of Him that you weren’t aware of before. It can also help you understand those attributes more fully.
2. Loving God means Obeying Him
Once you understand who God is and what He wants from us, the next course of action is to obey what He says. Think about it this way: even the demons know that Jesus is God and that He died for our sins, but they do not obey, nor do they love Him. One of the pitfalls for the Christian is to say we love God but choose to live our lives the way we want to. This is the same as telling your husband that you love him then turning around and keying his car! Does that exemplify real love? Loving God does not look like apathy towards His desires for us, instead it should be your constant effort to glorify God through obedience.
3. Loving God means Enjoying Him
“My wife is most honored when I say, “It makes me happy to spend time with you.” My happiness is the echo of her excellence. And so it is with God. He is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” – John Piper in his devotional, What it Means to Love God.
Reading this quote shows us one of the ways we know love functions in this physical world. It’s not only wives that feels pleased, honored, and appreciated when others enjoy being around them. God is also pleased. He created us for the purpose of glorifying Him—this means our soul will be most healthy and satisfied when we are living in step with God. God wants us to be healthy, He created us to thrive in His presence, so choosing to pursue Him and be pleased with who He is pleases Him. It is simple logic that is very easy to practice—thank Him unceasingly!
4. Loving God means Making Him #1
“Our marriage provides the foundation for everything that we’ve built together. It isn’t a joke. It’s something we work hard at and are tremendously proud of. I want it to last a lifetime, which is why I treat it accordingly.” – Mel Robbins for “Secret to a Happy Marriage: Put Your Spouse First.”
If you are married or hoping to get married someday, you’ve probably heard that you are always supposed to put your spouse first. This is important for various reasons, but mainly because your relationship with your spouse is the foundation for your entire life once you’re married. Knowing this, you should place all your effort and thoughts on the benefit of that relationship–choosing to make it a priority rather than an afterthought. Similarly, our relationship with God is the foundation for all things (including marriage) from the moment we become a Christian. In order to foster that relationship (and in turn, stand firmer in life), we must love Him and pour our efforts into our relationship with Him. We want our “marriage” to Christ to be lifelong just like our marriage to our spouse, so why would we not treat it with even greater importance? And, because our relationship with God is the foundation for all else, when He is treated as number one, all other things fall into place—including your marriage.
5. Loving God means Worshiping Him
“Worshiping Jesus together may be the single most important thing we do.” – Pastor David Mathis in “Five Benefits of Corporate Worship.”
Worshiping is deeply important for our relationship with God. Two of the most relevant benefits of worship are its ability to re-awaken in us a sense of awe for God and to give Him the glory He deserves. Every marriage feels the point when the spark dies down and your relationship feels less extraordinary and more ordinary. In a healthy marriage, the husband and wife will take action to try and rekindle the lost flame so that their marriage is full of life and luster once more. When loving God, this need to rekindle the passion and awe takes place in an even more enlightening way than date nights and romance—it takes place through worship. When we turn our focus entirely to God and forget ourselves completely in order to cry out how glorious and holy He is, we are loving Him well.