One of my most favorite passages of Scripture is Luke 10:25-28. It is not a text that is as epic as texts depicting amazing accounts of God’s miracles, but that is precisely why I love it so much. It is such a subtle, yet compelling text placed in the Gospel of Luke, in order to teach us what it means to truly love God. Loving God is crucial to living out life to the fullest; one can’t have a complete life without the eagerness to love God through all circumstances.
Luke 10:25-28 (ESV) says this, “And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?’ And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.'”
To love God is so important. All of us, including myself, can sometimes forget what it means to love God when we constantly think about how much God loves us. We must remind ourselves how to love God in accordance with the Scriptures. There are many ways in which people believe we must love God, but I believe that it is only by examining what Christ has said that we can know how to love God with sincerity.
With All Your Heart
Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones (my most favorite preacher) once said, “The Christian faith is ultimately not only a matter of doctrine or understanding or of intellect, it is a condition of the heart.” I wholeheartedly believe that you can’t truly begin to love God without a changed heart. Psalm 14:2-3 (ESV) says, “The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside… there is none who does good, not even one.” People, without a changed heart, will not be able to be saved, and will surely not be able to love God.
All throughout the Scriptures, the heart was defined as a person’s very being and purpose. So, when the lawyer recited the law, he didn’t realize what he was saying: in order to inherit eternal life, we need to be able to love God (I am not saying that loving God brings salvation, but that truly loving God is a sign of salvation). In order to truly love God, we need a changed heart. Jesus told the man that if he could do as the Law instructed, he could be saved; then, he could love God. Our Lord was making a point that we need to become a new being to love God. Man’s heart is far from the “clean it up” stage; it has to be surgically replaced.
Praise be to God that in John 3, Jesus reveals to Nicodemus, and to all of us, that God gives new hearts to those whom He loves. God, by His sovereign grace, changes the heart of an individual in order to come to repentance. It all starts with the heart. Once the heart has been changed, and one has repented, then one can truly love God with the heart that God has given him or her. The love that one begins to have from the new heart will be a true love, which is to draw near to God and glorify Him in everything that we do.
With All Your Soul
The Bible does not neglect our emotions, nor does it neglect how we are to experience a love for God. Something that we must always be careful not to do in our walk in the faith is to think that all of Christianity is about the mind. It is very dangerous to simply cut out all emotion in the Christian faith. Some Christians I have met believe that Christianity is not at all an emotional faith. I couldn’t disagree more.
Why would God tell us to love Him with all our soul, which represents the inner emotions and intuitions of an individual, if He was against those things? It is truly sad when I meet people who think that people shouldn’t laugh at church, that a local church shouldn’t express their worship, that people shouldn’t cry during the singing of hymns, and so on and so on. The Bible actually doesn’t encourage hiding feelings. In fact, it does the opposite; the Bible encourages sharing one’s feelings.
People who practiced the Jewish religion in Jesus’ time often made one of two mistakes: they either 1) went too far into emotionalism (which is dangerous as well; I’ll get back to it on the last point), or 2) were caught up with eliminating all emotions. Jesus wanted us to hear the emotional aspect of loving God. God does care about our words, our expressions, and our devotion to Him. Christ cares deeply about our brotherly affection towards Him. Whoever says otherwise is either completely ignorant of scriptural truth, or is making up a god of his own that is not from the Bible.
With All Your Strength
Loving God isn’t only about words, but also about deeds. James 2:17 (ESV) says, “…Faith by itself, if it does not have any works, is dead.” Loving God is not just about our emotional input into the relationship. Likewise, loving God is not just about our deeds and service to Him. Doing things for God is only a part of loving Him and not the whole. Wanna know why? The truth is simple, but hard for people to hear: God… actually doesn’t need us to do anything.
God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and able to do anything. The truth is that He could easily do a better job than any of us. Jesus was the greatest pastor and preacher that ever lived. Jesus was the greatest evangelist that ever lived. Jesus was the kindest and most compassionate person to ever live, and He was the truest example of what a Christian should be. Not just that, but I live knowing that I could die, and God could easily find a replacement for me. So, why does God have us do anything? To grow in love.
To the un-believing, I could see this coming across as conceited. However, to those of us who are Christians, we know that God’s decisions are for us to accept and not question. I don’t know why God chose us to to be vessels for His glory, but He did it by His own sovereign will. Since we are called, we have an obligation to do everything to our very best. We strive for perfection in all that we do and in the profession God has placed us so that we might glorify Him by doing so. To love God with all strength means to have dedication, determination, and aspiration to serve God and to do the good deeds which He predestined us to do.
With All Your Mind
We come to the final aspect of loving God completely. I spoke earlier of the dangers that could come to a Christian’s life once one begins to believe that emotions are not necessary. However, something I have noticed is the lack of urgency for the knowledge of God. There is a rise in hyper-emotionalism that frightens me. People believe that theology doesn’t matter, that all we need to know is that God “loves us” (whether He even loves them is a different question) and that dogmatics and confessions do more harm than good. I can confidently say that these people don’t truly love God.
Has anyone ever known of a successful marriage in which the wife didn’t care enough to study her husband, didn’t try to do anything to prove her love for him, or even try to keep sweet memories that impacted their relationship? You won’t find one. Why? Because love is about the person you care about and getting to know them. Likewise, we must realize that loving God is more than just feelings, but it is also about knowledge and wisdom. God wants us to grow in knowledge of Him, and He wants us to seek His wisdom.
I am one of the first Christians that will stand up to say that we need the Holy Spirit, and we need to experience His power. There is nothing more amazing than being in the presence of the Holy Spirit, and even encountering the power He has. However, if we let our emotions get in the way of having a relationship with God in which we think, reason, and study theology… what kind of love is that? Do not forget that God didn’t create men in His image in order to be emotional. Even the angels can do that, but what the angels can’t do is grow in a relationship with God to the point where we can learn. Without the learning aspect of the faith, love for God can’t be true.
I hope that those who have read this post can see why Luke 10:25-28 is an incredible passage on the love of God. I have yet to come across something more motivating, something more amazing, and something more pleasing than having the privilege to love God. God has changed my heart to love Him more and more. I love growing in theology, seeking His presence, and doing everything I can to serve Him.
1 John 4:19 (ESV) says, “We love because He first loved us.” If not for God, I wouldn’t be able to love Him or my brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope to love God to the fullest. May we all strive to love God with all that we are, and all that is within us. May our hearts, souls, strength, and minds be one in glorifying our God, and in our growing love for our great, wonderful Lord.
Soli Deo Gloria.