OK, I’m going to admit something embarrassing…I don’t always love God like I should! (You might be thinking, What kind of pastor are you, Jeff?!)
It’s embarrassing, but true. I don’t always love God 100% of the time or with 100% of my heart. I know that God deserves all my love. Jesus made it very clear in Matthew what kind of love I should give; it should be all-consuming. God deserves 100% of my love.
To use the Apple emoji, I should love 💯. Unfortunately, I don’t give him the love that he deserves like Jesus said I should in the Bible. [He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command.] The fact that I don’t love God 100% of the time is embarrassing for a pastor to admit. Moreover, I rarely love him with 100% of my being.
Because Jesus says this is the greatest commandment, I realize that I can’t treat this idea too lightly. I started thinking about keeping love 💯 a little bit more deeply this week, which led me to 1 John 4:7-10 in the Bible.
I was struck by this beautiful and challenging passage about love. John, the guy who wrote this passage, is often called the “Beloved Apostle”. I’m not sure that this title means that Jesus loved him more than he loved the other apostles. Rather, I think it’s a reference to how much John writes about love in his Bible books.
Re-reading John 4 got me thinking about keeping 💯, and here are a few thoughts “straight from my heart” this week about God’s loves and my love.
Love OF God
God is the starting point for all love according to 1 John 4. I think this is an important concept to keep in mind. My capacity to love comes from God. My understanding of what love is comes from God. The human ability to love is because God created us in his image. Therefore, God is the author and originator of all love. Love, rightly expressed, is a representation of who God is and what God is like.
According to 1 John 4:8, God IS love! Essentially, John is saying that love is an aspect of who God is, not simply something that he does. I’ll admit that it’s hard to for my small mind to understand the unlimited, inexhaustible nature of God.
This means, a good starting point to understand God is to recognize his love. God always keeps love 💯 because God is love 💯. I wrote this article because I want you to know love. And according to the Bible, if you want to know love, you have to get to know God.
Love FOR God
Here is where the challenge begins: I want to love God with the kind of love that he deserves. My mind is barely able to understand the love of God. However, my heart warms towards God as I start to grasp that his character and nature are expressed in love. As my understanding of God’s love grows, so does my love for him.
How could I not love the perfect expression of love? How could my heart not grow closer to the greatest source of love in the universe? One of my goals for this article is that it will help grow your understanding of God’s love, and as a result, your love for God will grow deeper in return.
This week, I heard a very wise pastor describe it this way: Humans merely reflect God’s love in the same way that the moon reflects the light from the sun. The moon has no capacity to generate light on its own.
Similarly, because the human heart has been so broken by sin, our hearts lack the capacity to generate love for God on their own. When we properly understand the love of God, we are able to love God in return. Thus, our heart reflects God’s love back to him in the same way that the moon reflects the light from the sun.
Maybe this is what John was trying to communicate in verse 7 by saying when we love like God, it is proof that we have been born of God or born again by God (see John 3:3).
Love LIKE God
This is where it gets really challenging. The kind of love that God desires is expressed both in loving God and loving others. According to Jesus, as described in Matthew 22:39-40. [The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.]
When I read this Bible passage, I want to ask why Jesus included the second greatest Commandment at this point? He wasn’t asked this question. The Bible appears to indicate that Jesus forced this information into the discussion without being asked. Apparently, Jesus doesn’t want the reader to miss the second half of love 💯.
Let’s return to 1 John 4 for just a moment. This is exactly what John, the Beloved Apostle, is saying after his description of God’s love and our capacity to love God in return. John tells us in verse 8 that if you cannot love others, there is something wrong with your relationship with God.
In case you didn’t understand what John was saying in verse 8, he makes it totally clear in verse 10 that love consists of sacrifice. –The same kind of sacrifice that God made to rescue us by sending his son to pay the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross.
The first and most important Commandment is to love God 💯, and the second greatest Commandment is to love others with a sacrificial love.
Maybe this article has caused you to think about your heart. Perhaps you have realized that you don’t have a God-like love because your heart has never been made new by Jesus Christ. If you have come to the realization that you need God to give you a new heart, I want to offer you a chance to respond to his love for the first time.
Here’s a simple prayer that you can offer to God in faith, asking him to change your heart:
Oh God, I recognize that my heart doesn’t love like it should. I also recognize that I cannot change my heart. Therefore, I am coming to you today asking for your forgiveness. Forgive me for not having a perfect love. I’m asking that you give me a new heart that will reflect the love that you are giving me, a heart that will reflect your love to others also. I plead the blood of Jesus as payment for my sins. I plead his death and resurrection as proof that you love me and want me to be called your child. Amen.
If you prayed that from a sincere heart, I believe God will hear your prayer and do a miracle in your heart. I believe he will give you a heart of love that is capable of keeping the first and second greatest Commandments. If you’ve made that sincere commitment today, I’d like to know about it so that I can pray for you. Please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020), Mt 22:37–38.
 Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020), Mt 22:39–40.