February….the month when all thoughts turn to love.
The meaning of love is varied. Ask a group of children to illustrate the word love and you get a different picture from each student. They love their parents. They love their pets. They love history (they do that for my benefit). They love to read (again, for my benefit). They love spaghetti and pizza. Little girls love Hannah Montana and little boys love their dirt bikes. A few even draw an illustration of their love for Jesus.
Love is interpersonal between humans and it can also be impersonal with objects, animals, and principles, goals, and even your country.
It is no surprise that when Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest….the most important for man to follow… love was included in the answer Jesus gave. Mark 12: 28-31 provides the answer where Jesus explains the first and most important commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength while the second most important commandment is love your neighbor as you love yourself. Both commandments harken back to Old Testament directives at Deuteronomy 6: 4-5 and Leviticus 19:18.
So, what it does it mean to love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength?
First you have to approach God. You have to have a relationship. You cannot love Him from afar. A daily, ongoing conversation with God must take place through prayer. James 4:8 tells us that if we draw near to God, He will reciprocate.
Prayer isn’t the only way to know what God wants for us. He communicates with us through the Bible, so a study of his word is imperative. Just like a professor of literature pours over novels, short stories, and poetry to hone their craft, Christians should pour over the Bible to sharpen their knowledge of God. You cannot profess to believe in something if you don’t know what you believe and why you believe it.
Think about how you spend your day and what you do. What television shows or movies do you watch? What sort of things do you talk about with others? Do you focus on negative things such as gossip, materialism, and carnal activities? God never leaves our side. He knows our thoughts. He sees our actions. How you do you think God wants you to spend your day? Romans 8:6 states….for the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. I think I like the choice of life and peace.
I John 2:15-16 reminds us not to love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. Because everything that belongs to the world---the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle---is not from the Father, but is from the world.
II Timothy 3:1-5 describes our world today in uncanny detail…..but know this: difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of religion but denying its power. Avoid these people!
Finally, there is one capstone verse that can help when improving a relationship with God…..Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Building a relationship of love with God is key.
Believing that Jesus died on the cross, rose from the dead, and is the Son of God is important to being a Christian, but it is not the final step.
It is just the beginning of the journey.
The image with this post is from Gaping Void.
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