You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:5
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
Both the Old Testament and the New stress the importance of loving God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and strength. Jesus even goes so far as to say that along with loving your neighbor as yourself, this covers all of Jewish Law. Talk about the short version of Scripture!
It hit me the other day when I was praying to be obedient to this command to love God: When was the last time I actually told God I loved Him?
I couldn’t even remember. That’s pretty sad. What kind of a relationship do I think I have with God? Do I just turn to Him in times of need and expect everything to be taken care of? Not really. I do turn to God for help, but often my prayers are about praising God, getting to know Him better, and striving to be more obedient and spiritually minded.
How often do you actually tell God you love Him?
Now, give yourself a little credit. God knows what’s in your heart before you ever utter any words in prayer, either silently or audibly. Your desire and effort to obey God is actually one way that you tell God you love Him. I mean, why would we try to obey God if we didn’t love Him? I guess you can obey God out of fear of punishment, but that’s not probably your motive and God must know that.
But still, I have to ask myself, Why don’t I tell God I love Him? Honestly, it never occurred to me until recently that I need to do that.
Let’s face it, if I only told my wife once, twenty years ago, that I loved her, how do you think that would affect our relationship? Oh, I could show my love by all kinds of things I did for her, but if I don’t say those beautiful words, “I love you,” then there is something missing.
I think we should tell people often that we love them – only if we really mean it, of course. The word love can be cheapened by insincere and exaggerated use. But if you truly love someone, you should tell them, often.
Maybe we’re afraid to say those words because it means we are making a commitment. If you truly love someone, you will treat them differently. If you say, “I love you,” you know in your heart that you must show your love by your actions.
Jesus knew this when he said to his followers, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15 ESV)
Maybe we are hesitant to tell God we love Him because we don’t think we’re able to make the full commitment those words imply. We might not be able to show our love for Him all the time. We’re all too aware of how easy it is to stray from 100% love for God every single moment of every single day.
Or maybe we don’t think we’re either able or worthy to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. There are those foxy little doubts and fears in the back of our mind.
But Moses and Jesus didn’t give us this commandment to obey only if we have lived a perfect human life. It’s a guideline and a standard to help us get through life, especially the rough spots.
Tell God right now that you love Him
So, take a minute right now and think of all that God has done for you. Well, that should take more than a minute. Feel the gratitude way down deep in your heart. Now, tell God you love Him. If someone you know did all those wonderful things for you, or even much less, you would be grateful and you would probably tell that person how much you loved them. Shouldn’t we do the same with God?
But do you love someone because they did something nice for you? Do we love God because of the things He does for us? If that’s the case, our love is based on benefits received instead of the inherent worth of a person or of God.
Actually, the only reason you can love God is because He is the originator of love. The Bible puts it this way, “We love because he first loved us.” (I John 4:19 ESV) God is Love itself, the source of love. You reflect His love. You don’t have to manufacture it. You cannot create or originate love; you can only reflect it from God.
We don’t love God in a tit for tat relationship that says, “If you love me, I’ll love You.” It’s more like God is the sun radiating out light and we reflect that light back to Him.
How did I tell God I loved Him?
So, in that prayer I mentioned above, I started telling God I loved Him. I thought of lots of qualities and attributes of God which I truly do love, like His lovingkindness, grace, and mercy. His divine wisdom, beauty, and holiness. His guiding, guarding, and protecting power. The list went on and on. I talked directly to God and said, “I love You, God.” And I told Him I loved all these qualities or facets of who He is.
I have to tell you, it felt a little weird at first. It was not in my regular boundaries for prayer. But it felt good and true as I proceeded.
It’s your turn
Please join me in this little exercise. Tell God you love Him. And not just in your prayer time. Tell Him at stray moments during the day, when you’re setting the table or going from one meeting to another at work. Or when you’re stuck in traffic. Or even when there’s no traffic on the highway.
We have a two way, covenant relationship with God. It’s not enough just to say “Thank You” to Him, as important as that is. We also need to tell Him we love Him and then live our lives as proof of that love.
I’d love to hear how this goes for you.
All the best for 2020.