Are you in love with God?
Let us reflect on God’s great love for us and the distance he went to demonstrate it through the life and death of Jesus.
Loving God can sound so simple. But when we think about what it means to love God with everything we have, we all have to recognize that we fall short. Thankfully, our relationship with God isn’t built on our own faithfulness, but his. So as we continue to journey toward Easter this week, let us reflect on God’s great love for us and the distance he went to demonstrate it through the life and death of Jesus.
You won’t be surprised to learn that, as a vocational minister, I would claim to love God. But I must confess: I sometimes struggle to be in love with God. I sometimes serve him more out of obedience than out of a deep love for my Lord. You may feel the same way.
Thankfully, there’s hope for us today.
On Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus’ enemies gathered around him, looking for a way to discredit him in front of the crowds. Matthew 22:35 tells us that at some point, “one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.” Test translates from a word that implies they meant to tempt or trap Jesus.
Here was his question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (v. 36). Now this was a seemingly impossible question to answer. The Jews recognize 613 commands in their law, and if Jesus picked just one of them, they could accuse him of ignoring or minimizing the rest.
You’re probably familiar with his response: “You shall love the Lᴏʀᴅ your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (v. 37). The “heart” in Scripture is the seat of the emotions and the will. The “soul” refers to the “breath” or “life” itself. The “mind” refers to intellect and understanding. And by answering in this way, Jesus both stunned his enemies and powerfully communicated how much God longs for relationship with us.
I sometimes feel discouraged since I know how far I fall short of loving God in all these ways. But here’s a thought that helps me when I’m feeling this way: Jesus’ response actually describes the way our triune God loves us.
See . . .
God the Father proved that he loves us with “all his heart” when he sent his Son to die so we could live eternally.
God the Son proved that he loves us with “all his soul” when he surrendered his life to his Father’s will and chose to die for our sins.
And God the Spirit proved that he loves us with “all his mind” as “the mind of the Spirit . . . intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27).
When anyone loves us, we are naturally moved to love them in response. This can be even more true of our relationship with God: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
So today, let’s focus on God’s great love for us as we enter into a time of guided prayer.
Today’s devotional is written by Jim Denison
1. God the Father’s decision on Good Friday to allow his Son to die for your sake. What would you like to say to him in response?
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
2. Reflect on God the Son’s decision on Maundy Thursday to die for your sake. What would you like to say to him in response?
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
3. Reflect on God the Spirit’s decision to intercede for you right now. What would you like to say to him in response?
“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).
When we reflect on God’s love for us, we are moved to love him in response. Part of loving someone is loving those they love. For example, you cannot truly love me if you hate my family.
The second part of Jesus’ response to the lawyer on this day in Holy Week was connected to the first: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). And in the parable of the Good Shepherd, he defined our “neighbor” as anyone with a need we can meet (Luke 10:37).
Who is your neighbor today?
Extended reading: Psalm 86
When we reflect on God’s love for us, we are moved to love him in response.