Do I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength?
Do I love my neighbor?
Do I worship God with a praise that pours out of my love and devotion?
Is love a feeling? How do I measure love?
Have I fed Jesus's lambs or tended His sheep?
Do I ever obey Christ because I am compelled to follow His command?
And it is interesting how some will beat themselves up over these issues. But I have always believed it is much better to struggle with these questions that to wander through life with no energy or thought about the condition of your heart.
If you struggle with the thought "Do I love God?"- you are showing more evidence of fruit than the person who always says, "I'm good in that category, don't bother me".
I spent an entire year (2006) meditating on and exploring the idea of Psalm 37:4:
'Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart'
It was during that time that I began to understand how to enjoy God more and worry about 'religious ritual' less. Now I have to be careful here because my tendency is to go back and forth between ditches. The tight balance is to practice the disciplines of grace, but understand that the flow of joy, feelings, and achievement has a natural up and down.
I wrote on it a little here in 2006: Deeper Delight and Roller Coaster Rides
So as I meditate on loving God and loving others, it helps me to be mindful of Him throughout the day.
So this morning, my wife, oldest daughter, and I woke up early and headed to a beautiful 5.4 mule run through a creek path, majestic woods, beautiful homes, a manicured golf course, quaint little shops, and the best weather you could find this time of year. Part of loving God is to be aware of Him in the activity. As I took in the fresh smells and enjoyable talk with people I love, I just praise God and thank Him for all He has given Me, the glory He gets from His amazing creation!
My heart was still so alive after my daughter read through a Psalm on perseverance and patience to help us before the run. Seeing people of all aspects of life and dogs on the trail makes me so thankful to where we live and the freedoms and blessings we have received from Him.
A song was in the background of my mind: I lift my eyes up, to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from You- maker of heaven, Creator of the earth- and that inspiring song helped me endure a tough hill at mile 3.
After the run, we went for a cup of coffee at O'Henry's. As we walked in, I bumped into one of the saints that God put in my life years ago to encourage me. I had not seen him in 15 years, but the smiles were warm and the fellowship was sweet. The smell of that coffee and the warm service of the people working there was a continuous pouring of blessing and goodness straight from the Father.
Later, we went to a farmer's market and the lively banter, the fresh food, live music, and fun choosing of items was just a taste of God's graciousness. At the market, we went and found my next door neighbor and marveled at his stained glass windows which I see him making all the time in his garage. He is glad to see us and we have enjoyed developing a relationship with him.
Got home and ate a meal of fresh tomato and homemade chicken salad that my wife prepared. We sat at the table, enjoying music and delightful conversation.
But thoughts of Christ, His grace, forgiveness, mercy serve as the foundation for my heart to feel so full.
All of this, enjoying God, being mindful of His freedom and goodness, delighting in Him by enjoying Him who is the Giver of all good things is part of growing more and more in love with Him.
AND ALL OF THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ME. IT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT OVERCOMING MY SELFISHNESS AND EARTH BOUND ATTITUDE THAT IS MY DEFAULT MODE.
At the same time, there are MANY more obstacles to overcome, dark days to endure, and honest critique where I don't follow Him with my heart, or soul, or mind, or strength.
So I keep this understanding that I am pulled along in a tense balance of enjoying and obeying.
I feast on His goodness and wallow in my sin. I have days of rejoicing and days of despair. The key is the type of vessel that I am being made into.
John McArthur says it this way:
Now this then is a definition of what it means to be a believer and to have a relationship with God. But it is also a universal command. (Loving God and Others) is a universal command and it must be stated that disobedience to this command is why hell will be forever populated. The world has been, is and will be full of people who refuse to love God. This is the great consummate command, disobedience to which brings about divine and eternal judgment and punishment. Nothing is more critical than this command.
Because there’s no other commandment greater than these. And our Lord also said, “On these two, hang all the law and the prophets.” The Ten Commandments are connected to this. The first four are about loving God. You don’t have any other God. You don’t make a false idol. You don’t take His name in vain. And you remember to worship Him. That’s loving God. And to 10 it’s about loving man. You...you’re respectful to your parents. You have respect for authority, you have a respect for life, you don’t kill people. You have a respect for moral purity, you don’t commit adultery. Respect for others’ goods and rights, you don’t steal. You have respect for what is true, you don’t lie. Have respect for what God has provided and you’re content, you don’t covet. All that has to do with man to man. The first half has to do with man to God, then man to man, so that these two commandments are simply a summarization of the whole Law.There are only two possibilities...God’s laws that relate to our relationship to Him, and His laws that relate to our relationship with others. This is the genius of our Lord. In these two commands, He has said it all. It’s all gathered up in those two commands. Stunning. Love Me, love others, even your enemies, Matthew 5:43 to 48, not just your friends, not just your brothers, but love your enemies and you’ll truly be the children of your father. Love others.
They (pharisees) didn’t do that either. They had nothing but disdain for others. They despised the informed, the poor, the weak. They had no respect for those people who were beneath them. Pharisees wouldn’t even eat with a non-Pharisee. Their religion was false, it was corrupt all the way through.
From Debating to Teaching (vs. 35-38)
35 fAnd as gJesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that hthe Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself, iin the Holy Spirit, declared,j“‘The Lord said to my Lord,“Sit at my right hand,until I put your enemies kunder your feet.”’37 David himself calls him Lord. So lhow is he his son?” And the great throng mheard him gladly.Jesus understands the PROCESS of developing the deep gospel understanding and sanctification that allows for freedom and progress.
38 nAnd in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces 39 and have the best seats in the synagogues and othe places of honor at feasts, 40 pwho devour widows' houses and qfor a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
The key is to be a glad receiver of this information and not a negative, jaded rejector.
I feel our world becoming so cynical. The entertainment and humor is mocking and marginalizes good things.
Jesus says 'Don't be a religious elite and walk around to impress, and lift yourself up, and look down at others, and mock people, and love things'
Instead, be a person who loves God and loves others. Be humble and find joy in simple things. Have an attitude of gratitude because you know you do not DESERVE anything but Hell.
Trust His promise of grace so fully that you live in freedom of being accepted by God. Walk as a royal son or daughter, not to Lord it over others, but to serve them.
Share the good news, people desperately need to know the proof of God's love by His sacrificial death and offer of eternal life.
Did you beat yourself up over whether you love God?
Have you ever considered that He knows you well enough to be patient as you honestly struggle with that big issue.
Keep struggling and keep experiencing His smile!