“...this is love for God: to keep his commands.” 1 John 5:3
Have you ever tried to figure out whether or not someone you loved, loved you in return? Some people think you can solve the dilemma by pulling petals off of a flower while reciting the options… she loves me, she loves me not. Supposedly, when you get to the last petal, you’ve got the right answer. The best part is, if you don’t like the outcome, you can grab another flower and start over!
Sometimes I wonder if that’s how God feels about our love for Him. We know from Scripture that God’s love toward us is faithful, undaunted, and unchanging (Lamentations 3:22-23). But, quite frankly, our love for Him is often fickle and erratic. One day it’s “we love Him,” and a couple of days later it looks like “we love him not.” And while we would never say it that way, sometimes that’s really what it is! One day we resonate with intimacy toward God, and the next, we feel distant and disconnected.
I suspect that part of the problem is our understanding of the word love. We use the same English word to speak about so many things. For instance, I could say, I love baseball or I love deep-dish pizza or I love my wife using the same word for all, but meaning dramatically different things. Then I use that same word and say, “I love God.” No wonder the meaning gets lost!
That’s why I’m thankful for the writings of the apostle John. He moves the discussion about our love for God from the realm of our fickle feelings to tangible, practical ways that we can express our love to God regardless of how we feel. In today’s verse, John tells us that God feels loved by us when we obey Him (1 John 5:3). John also makes it clear that our love for God is evident when we love His other children (v.2). And, our love for God is also proven when we choose to love Him more than the world (1 John 2:15).
So, thankfully, our love for God doesn’t need to rise and fall on how we feel on a given day. Loving Him is about our choice to put Him first and care about the things He cares about! And that is something we can do on a regular basis regardless.
If you’ve been caught in a “petal-pulling” love relationship with Jesus, set yourself free by choosing to express your love to Him in concrete ways every day. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the good feelings follow your good choices!
- Take some time to evaluate your love for God. Is it based on your feelings or on the facts you know to be true about Him? In what ways do you express your love for Him?
- How are you doing in terms of not loving the world? What are some things in the world that attract your attention, distracting you from your relationship with God?
- According to 1 John 2:17, what will happen to the world? Can you be described as a person “who does the will of God”? Take some time to prayerfully ask the Lord to anchor your heart with this desire.