HOW WE SHOW OUR LOVE FOR GOD
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans )
In 1 John 4:19 the Bible says, "We love Him because He first loved us." This verse comes in the midst of a passage about God's love. It is a statement that summarizes what our attitude toward God ought to be. It shows that His love is the incentive, the motive, and moral cause of our love. The word for love in this text is AGAPE, which means, among other things, caring enough about someone to sacrifice for him. God so loved us to this degree that He sent Jesus to die for our sins. Jesus loved us so much that He willingly came and died. Because of this great love, we must love so good a God, who was first in the act and work of love; who loved us when we were both unloving and unlovely; who loved us at so great a cost - the expense of His only begotten Son's blood. Because of this great love, we are naturally moved (at least we should be moved) to love Him, our fellow brethren, and the whole lost world in return. So how do we show our love for God and Jesus? The New Testament tells us a number of ways…
First, we show our love for God and Jesus by obeying them!
John records Jesus teaching His disciples, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." Later in the discourse, He said to them, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him" (vs.21). Did you notice the blessings He promised to those who love Him and keep His commandments? He said, if we love Him the Father will love us, and He (Jesus) will love us and manifest Himself to us. Later in his life, John tied together love for God and obedience. He wrote, "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (1 John 2:3-6). A little later in this same epistle, the Holy Spirit said, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3). From time to time we have heard someone say, “I just can’t keep this old Bible. I just can’t live up to its teachings.” But John says obeying God's commands are not burdensome. This does not mean that everything we do will be easy or even pleasant, but if we truly love God, we will gladly do whatever He tells us to do, simply because He tells us too. Our personal feelings about His commands are irrelevant. In these verses, we can clearly see that we show our love for God by obeying Him. This also means that if we do NOT keep His commandments, we do NOT really love Him. Disobedience shows a lack of love.
Second, we show our obedience and love for God and Jesus by putting them first!
When asked on one occasion what the greatest commandment was, Jesus answered, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40). The point Jesus was making is that with everything we are and have, we must love God. This demands that He be first in our life. And Jesus demands the same for Himself. He said on another occasion, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me" (Matthew 10:37-39). Speaking of Jesus, Paul wrote, “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (or first place)” (Colossians 1:18). Consider also 1 John 2:15 which says, "Love not the world, neither the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." This text shows that if we prefer the world (or anything in the world) above Him, that a true love for God is not there. Truly, love for God and Jesus means that they must be a priority in our lives. They must come first.
Third, we show our obedience and love for God and Jesus by loving our brethren!
On the same occasion that Jesus taught His disciples to keep His commandments He told them how important loving one another would be. He said, "A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another" (John 13:34-35). The Holy Spirit emphasized this again in 1 John 4:20-21. There the Bible says, "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also." Did you notice the emphatic equation between our love for our brethren and our love for God? Truly, we show God how much we love Him by preferring to be with others of a like precious faith.
Fourth, we show our obedience and love for God and Jesus by telling others about Them!
If you love someone, you want others to know about him or her (AMEN?). One who loves his parents, will humbly tell others about them. He who truly loves his wife, will want others to know about her. He wears a ring and puts her upon a pedestal. Such is also true if we love God and Jesus. We will want to let others know that they are a part of our life. In Acts 8:4, we read of persecuted brethren who, "were scattered abroad (and) went everywhere preaching the word." Their love for Christ compelled them to tell others about Him. The apostle Paul spoke of His love for Christ compelling him in 2 Corinthians 5:14. A study of the context of that passage shows that he and those with him were interested in persuading men to believe in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:10-11). Loved ones, like the apostles Peter and John, we need to develop a bad case of the I-can’t-help-its when it comes to telling others about the Godhead. Even after being threatened and commanded not to speak any more in the name of Jesus, they told the Jewish leaders, “we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:17-20). They surely remember the words of Jesus when He said, "Therefore, whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33). They also loved the Lord enough to say, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts ). Do you love God and Jesus enough to tell others about Them?
Finally, we show our obedience and love for God and Jesus by loving them!
The point here is that when we act because we AGAPAO God, in time it will lead to a relationship, or a sense and emotion that is much deeper than merely obeying. In other words Agape love will lead to Phileo love for God. You ask, what’s the difference? Well in short, due to time, Agapao is the love of the mind or the will, and Phileo is the love of closeness and affection. Agapao often coveys the idea of showing love by action, whereas Phileo is a love of the feelings, and has to do with warm and spontaneous affection. John says, "For the Father himself loves (Phileo) you, because you have loved (Phileo) Me, and have believed that I came forth from God." Paul commanded, "If any one does not love (Phileo) the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord come" (1 Corinthians ). These verses talk about the affection we ought to develop when Jesus and God become the influencing factors they should be in our lives.
There are other ways that we demonstrate our obedience and love for God and Jesus, but these five are sufficient to give us an idea of exactly what it involves. John gave this consolation concerning our love for Them: "And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him" (1 John 4:16). James said, "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" (James 1:12). In these verses we see the reward we have if we truly love God and Jesus as we ought to. What about you? Do you love God and Jesus as you ought to? Do you love them enough to keep their commandments?