By Robert Stroup
In First John 4:19 the Apostle stated well the basis of our relationship with God. “We love him, because he first loved us.” Or, at least, we should! For it would truly be a shame for such a great love as His not to be reciprocated. We should all deeply love Him – if for no other reason – than because He first deeply loved us.
The Psalmist wrote, “I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live…1 was brought low and he helped me… What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation. And call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD….” (Psalm 116: 1-2, 5, 1214) Here he was saying, “I will love Him because He first loved me. I will express my earliest gratitude to Him by keeping His commandments and doing His will. I will surrender the right to live my life any old way I want to. The good reason I will live this way is because He first loved me!”
God’s love for us is immeasurable. It is without bounds both in the extent of its intensity and in the length of its duration. As to its intensity: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16) Acts 1:3 declares that “he shewed himself alive after his passion…” Passion is an intense word! As to the extent of His love’s duration the Prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love…” (Jeremiah 31:3) The vastness of His love for us is incomprehensible! It is indescribable! And all He asks in return is that we love Him back! In fact, He not only desires it. He requires it!
“Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying. Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.. Matthew 22:35-38) Consider these words of Moses, “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways. and to love him…” (Deuteronomy 10:12) The only meaningful way that we can express our love for God is by walking in His ways. Love for God must be expressed in obedience to God!
This same truth was manifested in the Ten Commandments. “God spoke all these words, saying, 1 am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. ..for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me: And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:1-3, 5-6) Here God tells Israel that in response to what He had done for them He was requiring first place in their lives. His preeminence was to be expressed by their wholehearted obedience. In fact He would view any disobedience as being rooted in hatred. He would see it as ingratitude towards Him if they were to put anything or anyone including themselves, before Him. The only ranking He would accept in their lives was first place. And when given first place He would then view their heartfelt obedience as an act of love towards Him. He would then counter with His mercy.
Please note. It is not enough just to “somewhat” love Him. It’s not enough to have sonic degree of affection for Him. His probing question to Peter is one that He would ask all of us. “Lowest thou me more than these?” (John 21:15) And He will not accept the “talk” without the “walk”. “My little children, let us not love in word neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (I John 3:18) Actions speak louder than words. Choices don’t lie. Our deeds clearly show what we genuinely treasure. Paul indicted those who were to live in the last days, saying that they would “be lovers of their own selves… (and) lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God…” (II Timothy 3:2. 4) The Lord just can’t believe it when, after all He has done for us, we refuse to give Him His proper place. He simply will not accept the very small part we often allow Him to have in our lives. He cannot believe where He ranks and how many other people and/ or things we put before Him after He has so generously and graciously put us before everything! And. He is deeply hurt by it. It’s no small thing to Him. It’s a big deal. It’s unacceptable! “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me. is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37-38) When anyone refuses to take up their cross and die to self-love, the end result is that “they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh. and put him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:6) He’s humiliated by this slight, perhaps even embarrassed! He’s insulted! He looks at it as hatred or contempt towards Him. “Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience…” (Romans 2:4 NIV) He thinks, “After all I’ve done for them, this is the thanks I get?”
So how can I prove my love to the Lord? Like the Psalmist. I can prove it by my choices. I must make some firm commitments and decisions. For instance: “I will demonstrate my love for Him by my ‘first of all” prayers each morning. (See 1 Timothy 2: I) I will show the Lord where He ranks by going to Him in prayer first thing every day give evidence of my love by always being faithful to His house. Unlike those who ‘with one consent began to make excuse’ as to why they could not attend the feast their Lord had prepared for them. I will be glad when they say unto me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ I will further reveal my love for Him through my giving. I will gladly and cheerfully confirm that He holds first place in my life by always -honoring Him with my substance and with the first fruits of my increase.’ And I will, like Job, esteem God’s words even more than my necessary food. And with the Psalmist, I will proclaim, ‘How sweet arc thy words unto my taste, yea, sweeter than honey….’ I will do my utmost best to make sure that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart are always acceptable to Him. I can do no less than this. For such a great love as His must not be taken for granted. I will love Him b
He first loved me!”
From, “Indiana Apostolic Trumpet”/May 2009/Page 3, by Robert Stroup
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