Love is one of those words that overuse and misuse has cheapened. We will vow on our wedding day to love our spouse until death do us part, and then turn around and declare how we love pizza, or a certain movie, or finding a twenty-dollar bill in our dirty jeans. “I love you,” or “don’t you love me?” have become a tactic to have illicit sex: an effort to reap benefits of marriage without making the committment. Love has become a tool to express our satisfaction, not our devotion to another. As a Christian, to say we love God often doesn’t hold water…that declaration may be well intended but it’s full of holes as we really only love God as far as he satisfies us and makes us happy. That isn’t love for God; that’s idolatry.
Truly loving God with all your heart is a two-lane lifestyle. It means, first, that our desires and emotions are utterly surrendered to Him. Though we may grieve, we do so as those who have hope, trusting the Lord. We may wrestle with anxiety, but we are willing, even eager, to cast those cares upon the mercy and grace of God whom we love and trust. When we rejoice we do so in Christ knowing he is the source of it all. It means we live in an intentional state of gratitude toward God – for every blessing and trial – because He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Loving God with all your heart means that there is no part of your heart available to lesser things – to other lovers who would woo and distract you from your First Love. Those who truly love God seek in the desires of their heart the longing for God which is at the heart of them all.
The other lane on this road is that those who truly love God will also share His affections – His heart. What God values you will value; not just in word or as a concept, but in real, tangible, everyday ways. The things God desires, you will desire. God’s priorities will become your own, and the work God is doing, you will be eager to join. To truly love God with all your heart means that you are unable to live your life outside God’s mission and purpose. You will hunger and thirst for the presence and activity of God in, through, and around you – seeking His face in every encounter and opportunity. The world and those in the church who are just playing the game will label you a Jesus freak or a religious fanatic, but the one who loves God will wear those intended persecutions like a badge of honor.
Loving God with all your heart means there are no holes in your walk with Him. Though you may not be perfect, you desire to be as your motives, desires, and affections are seeking God more and more deeply. Your whole heart is surrendered or being surrendered to Christ – denying yourself, taking up your cross for the joy set before you and following Him. Every part of your life lived to please the lover of your soul.
Is loving God a concept you agree with, or lifestyle you pursue? Perhaps you need to remember the height from which you have fallen, repent, and return to your First Love? God is merciful and gracious. “Return to Me,” he has declared, “and I will return to you.” He longs for you, but God is also holy and just and will not tolerate our sinful neglect of Him so He also says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found.” I urge you then, join me in prayer and ask God to teach you how to love Him with all your heart.