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Instructed to Love

If you drop by my home for a visit, you might notice a curious object attached to the wood framing of my front door. It’s about five inches long and not quite two and a half inches wide. This small, oblong container is called a mezuzah. I bought it several years ago in Israel.

My mezuzah holds a small piece of parchment with Deuteronomy 6:4-9 inscribed on it with the word, “Shaddai,” Hebrew for “Almighty.” It’s a common practice for observant Jewish homes to have this affixed to the door frame as a constant reminder of God’s presence and of the central prayer of Judaism, the Shema.

Look at the first portion of the Shema:

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart” (Deut. 6:4-6).

As you read these words, do you find it curious—as I do—that we have to be instructed to love God? I mean, think about it. He’s our creator and our source for existence. He is a merciful and gracious Savior. He has continually proven Himself to be a faithful and benevolent provider. His character and nature are demonstrated by such things as: moral purity, loving-kindness, truthfulness, goodness, patience, and self-sacrifice.

When it comes to this amazing God, what is there not to love? And yet, throughout Scripture we see these instructions to love God repeated.

I think it is noteworthy that we find reference to hating and loving God encased in His Ten Commandments issued in Exodus 20:2-17.

As God is communicating His law, He ties obedience to love and idolatry to hatred. This is the first direct reference to humanity “loving” God and it is placed within the context of exclusive obedience to Him.

This gives reason to pause and consider whether we use the terminology of “love” rather loosely. Is my exuberant proclamation of love for Christ backed up with more convincing proof than my visible demonstration of love for pizza?

What does “loving God” really look like?

Can it be described, demonstrated, cultivated, or kindled?

Can it be faked?

How do you portray your love for God to others?

How do you demonstrate your love to Him?

I’d love to hear your comments.

Adapted from my True Woman post: 02/03/2009 http://www.truewoman.com/?id=585

5 Comments

  • Tambra Lucas

    Awesome Kim, just studied this.

    Our God is so amazing (more than amazing)and just thinking about what He has done for us should set love on fire in our hearts for Him. But sadly to say, sometimes we let that love cool off and self becomes the center of our attention and the fire of our attractions.
    He is a jealous God and wants to be the fire that blazes and draws us with extreme affections and attractions toward Him in our love for Him.
    “Wow”, that reminds me just now of a song; “Oh how He loves us” David Crowder , I will have to learn it now.

    He wants our love for Him to be greater than anything in our lives.
    “He wants nothing to occupy more space in our heart than Him.”
    Our heart is the residence of His Holy Spirit.
    “He wants nothing to be more desirable to to our soul than Him”
    Our deepest desire is to be in Him.
    “He wants nothing to be in control of our thoughts than Him” Only to meditate on Him and His Word, day and night, allowing our thoughts to be taken captive by Him.

    Mathew 22:37- Jesus says,”You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And He says, this is the first and greatest commandment!

    It’s unequivocal what this verse means. And, it’s not an option. It’s a commandment!!
    Loving God means to choose Him for an intimate relationship, and to obey His commands (His Word)loving Him is to be wholehearted,(not a rather loosely kind of love) it is to pervade every aspect of our being and life. (Heart, soul, mind, and strength).

    How can we engulf ourselves in flames drawn to loving Him?
    How can He be the greatest fire in our lives?

    1)Having-Genuine faith, true and real worship, and authentic righteousness, for the sake of the cross.
    Understanding what took place at the cross, the price paid.
    Understanding Salvation, redemption,justification,forgiveness, and reconciliation.
    Understanding His great love is where it starts.
    Everyone desires to be loved and there is no greater love than Christ and His perfect love , that was shown at the cross.

    True and genuine worship,for He is the only God and Savior.
    Having the highest reverence for Him and His Word.
    Keep His Word, obey and keep His commandments. (1 Kings 8:60)
    Allowing ourselves to be in total surrender to His Spirit.

    Having the greatest respect for Christ, Realizing and acknowledging that He is the only absolute and omnipotent ruler in the universe, He is sovereign in creation, providence and redemption. Understanding that we are all are created for the purpose of His glory. To glorify Him, to worship Him.

    2)Strive to live a holy life. We represent a high priest.
    Our lives should reflect Him, and others should see that.
    Allow our lives to be transformed by His Word. Live His Word.

    3)Staying in His Word daily, you cannot have a loving
    relationship without getting to know Him, and pray without ceasing. Pray expecting to meet with Him.
    Pray for Him to give you love for Him and others.

    4)Clothe yourself with rightousness, holiness, grace, mercy, humility,love, kindness, patience,joy,peace,goodness. Be understanding.
    5)Serve God and others with gladness.
    6)Place others before yourself.
    7)Turn away from all sin. Being renewed by His Spirit.
    live and walk in the spirit, realizing we are a new creation.
    (2 Corinthians 5:17)

    8)Seek to live the will of the Father, not of our own pleasing.
    9)Do the right thing, even when it is the hard thing.
    10)Do the very best you can, and leave and trust the rest to Him, for He is faithful.

    Yes, we are instructed to love God, but if we do all these things, we will cultivate and grow , a pure and genuine, true love for our God that is so amazing.

  • Amy

    Hi Kimberly,

    I finished your book a couple weeks ago, thank you for that blessing…I mean that sincerely and from my heart. I’m also a pastor’s wife…with two little boys watching so much of my relating to my man. I need to re-read it and let it take root in my heart. I pray that it does. I subscribed to the Revive Our Hearts Husband Encouragement e-mails at the same time…lol…I got a double whamy. 😉

    I don’t know if this applies to what you’ve written about in today’s post, but I have always thought that the verse from Jesus that says, “If you love me, you will obey my commands” meant that we should prove our love to God by obeying His commands. I’ve always read it in my mind and heart as, “If you love me, prove it.” My first-born desire/tendency to please and strive and do then tries so hard, only to feel like its never quite enough…it sometimes feels like failure in miserable and exhausting ways instead of love (?).

    Anyhow, I’m not sure I’ve got my head totally around this yet, but I realized recently that maybe I was reading it wrong…and maybe Jesus meant that when we focus on loving God (and how can we not when our eyes are on Him? how can I not fall at His feet and of course want to please Him when I consider Who He is and what He has done?), the “fruit” of that relating will be obedience to His commands. Thus, if we love him, obedience will follow and sort of flow out of our hearts? I don’t know if that makes sense, or if it is correct, but I know that for myself, loving and obeying God and wanting so much to please Him comes so much more naturally and freely, without stress, when my eyes are on Him, when I’m in the Word, praying regularly, etc.

    -Amy

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Wow, Tambra ~ you’ve definitely put a lot of study in on this topic. Thanks for sharing. I love your statement: “Our God is so amazing (more than amazing)and just thinking about what He has done for us should set love on fire in our hearts for Him.”

    I definitely think that is the key. When I fix my heart and mind on Jesus, my heart can’t help but be filled with love for Him and love for Him will begin to control my will and actions.

    Loving Him with you today! 🙂

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello Amy,

    So glad to hear from you and thank you for sharing how God has been working in your life.

    I love and completely agree with your “new” thought process on this:

    “the “fruit” of that relating will be obedience to His commands. Thus, if we love him, obedience will follow and sort of flow out of our hearts”

    So true. Whenever our heart hardens is when we have issues with disobedience. There is also the aspect of cultivating that love and I think consistent obedience to Him deepens our love relationship with Him because it allows us to experience the loving fellowship that comes from doing His will (John 15:8-10)which again, increases our love and desire to obey.

    There is true joy in obedience because as we obey Him we are abiding in unbroken fellowship with Him and in His presence there is fullness of joy!