Before we talk about growing in love for Jesus, I have to ask - WHY should we want to love God at all? Is it worth the fight against our flesh, which often drifts to love self and the world instead of God? We know it is worth it! But why?
God has commanded us to love Him (John 14:23, Matthew 22:36-38). So love is an expression of obedience to God! Our gracious God has also designed that obedience brings great blessing. When we turn our affections to God, we find that “in His presence is fullness of joy; at His right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Loving God benefits us, bringing joy that we cannot find anywhere else! When we love God and joy from Him spills out in our lives, His worth is displayed to a watching world. Those around us will be pointed to the immeasurable worth of God, and He will get the glory He deserves.
Understanding better the why, I then ask how can I grow in my love for the Lord? Sisters, I have had both victories and struggles in this area, and I need the Lord’s help so much to keep my eyes and heart toward Him! Sometimes I find myself becoming like Martha - busy and distracted with serving... but missing the point, as well as the blessing! I think of Jesus’ loving rebuke, and I want to be more like Mary. “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-39). So how do I choose “the good portion”, that makes my heart long to sit at Jesus’ feet because I love Him and know how wonderful His presence is? These are reflections from God’s Word and my own experience on ways God has drawn my heart to love Him. The Lord speaks to me as I reflect on these things!
• “We love because He first loved us” (I John 4:19). Our ability to respond in love to God is dependent on His grace, so ask Him for help to grow in love for Jesus!
• You cannot love what you do not know, and I cannot understate the value of personal time alone with the Lord. This is how you will know Him, and grow to love Him! “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8)!
• “...long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation” (I Peter 2:2). The Word of God is powerful to change us, and to show us God so that we will grow in love for Him. We cannot survive spiritually without the milk of the Word!
• “I love the Lord, because He hears my voice and my pleas for mercy” (Psalm 116:1). Seeing the ways that God lovingly responds to my cries to Him, draws my heart to love Him! Prayer deeply cultivates my relationship with my Father.
• “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15) and “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). The times when my love for God is weak are often the times when my love for other things is stronger than my desire for Him. What “idols” distract your heart from loving God? These things will often not be wrong in themselves, but they become sinful when I love them more than I love God. Clothing, food, friends, academics, money, boys... you get the idea!
• “...pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). Make your close friendships with those who love God, and who make you thirsty for Him! Godly friends have profoundly affected my love relationship with God.
• “Set your minds on things that are above” (Colossians 3:2). Feed your mind truth about God, and choose to set your mind on Him. The thoughts we think, books we read, music we listen to, and what we watch all influence our affections.
May I share one more thing that is on my heart, friends? As a wife and mother now, there are many things that vie for my time and attention. Quiet times alone with my heavenly Father are harder to find, and I need the Lord’s help to turn my heart and mind to Him as I do laundry, prepare meals, play with our daughter or care for her in the night, and spend time with my precious husband. Though my spirit desires to love the Lord my God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength, the truth is that my affections are often divided. I am ever needing the Lord to teach me how to love Him even when my attention is pulled in many directions.
I challenge you, my friend - if you are still in the season of singleness, consider the freedom that you have with your time and may the Lord stir your heart to seek Him in “undivided devotion” while you can (see I Corinthians 7:35). Life as a single woman is busy, I know! But in many ways, your time is more your own - you have greater freedom to choose how you will spend it. I love being a wife to my husband and a mother to my daughter!! I also do not regret a single moment of the times I spent alone with my Father - in prayer, reading His Word, memorizing and meditating on Scripture - while I was in the season of singleness. The roots from that season have many times sustained me and encouraged me now, when those times alone are harder to find.
Whatever your season, sisters, may God help us look to Him and see how worthy He is of our wholehearted love!