Do you ever sing worship songs like “I love you Lord, and I lift my voice,” and find yourself wondering what it really means to love God? Or wondering what God thinks when we all sing such songs, some even sappy ones? Does He get goose bumps, or does He have thoughts like are recorded in Malachi chapter 1 when through the prophet, God blasts the complacent Israelites because they accuse God of not loving them, they offer defiled and lame sacrifices and treat God second rate, at best.
So what does the Bible say about what it really means to love God?
Matthew 6:19-24 tells us that we can’t love God and money both, because we’re then serving two masters. How much do you think about money, savings accounts, nest eggs, bills and jobs? Do you pursue that more than you pursue God? Or, as Matthew 6:33 states, do you seek God’s kingdom first and let the financial details work themselves out, knowing that God will supply and provide?
John 14:23 states “If anyone loves Me, he will OBEY My teaching. My Father will love him, and we (via the Holy Spirit) will come to him and make our home with him.” So obedience is a big key to loving God. If we say that we love God, simply put, we must obey Him. We can’t tolerate sin habits, unconfessed sins, harbored bitterness and resentment or even delayed obedience. Sometimes we couch our sin habits by saying things like “I’m struggling with gossip” rather than saying to ourselves or others
“I’m sinning by gossiping.” Ouch. That changes my “I love you Lord and I lift my voice.”
Further, 1 John 4:19-21 reads “If anyone says “I love God” but hates his brother, he’s a liar. Anyone who does not love his brother whom he has seen does not love God whom he has not seen.” Who won’t you go out of your way to help, talk to or sit next to, even in church?
Finally, in John 8:31 it says “If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples.” Soaking and abiding and resting in the Bible on a regular basis has something to do with loving God. If your spouse went away for a long while and wrote you letters, but you never read them, what would that say about your love for your spouse?
There are many other verses that give us direct hits about what it means to love God. But in a simple summary it would be about obeying God. It is a choice, not an emotion. It is an action, not a feeling.
Elizabeth Elliott has written a story from her childhood of how her little brother at the age of 7 or 8, was sitting at the piano playing “Jesus Loves Me.” Their mom called him to come and set the table, which was his job. He called back “but I’m playing ‘Jesus Loves Me.'” She promptly called back “You can’t play ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and be disobedient.” It follows that we can’t sing about how we love Jesus and not obey, love money more than him, have bitterness and resentment that we harbor, or if we don’t abide in His Word.
What, with God’s enabling grace, do you need to lay at His feet today so you can sing with all integrity “I love you Lord and I lift my voice?”