I want to love God more than I do. I want to find more and more of my satisfaction in Christ. I know that if I grow in my love for God I will also grow in my love for people. I want to love people like Christ loved people.
To Love God is also to hate sin. Sin loses its alluring power when it is hated. Have you ever been tempted to eat vomit? I didn't think so. If we saw sin for what it is, it would be equally unappealing. (See 2 Peter 2:22 for a comparison of sin to vomit.) Sin promises the world and delivers the grave. It does not satisfy. The pleasures that sin provide are only for a short season. On the other hand, obedience to God brings blessing, peace, honor and prosperity, along with persecution, but that has its own rewards.
How can we intentionally grow in our love for God? Is there anything we can do to help the process? Today's selection of scripture in the Operation Save America Bible reading plan contains the following verses.
Lu 7:40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
In this parable Jesus said that there is a relationship between forgiveness and Love. The person who has been forgiven much, loves much. The person who has been forgiven little, loves little. Does this mean that if we want to love God more we should go out and sin so that we can be forgiven more? Of course not. That would be doing the opposite of loving God. Because if we love him, we will keep his commandments. So, how does this parable help us to grow in our love for God? What we can do is grow in our perception of the gravity of our sin, the completeness of forgiveness, and the surpassing value of our priveledged position in Christ.
Suppose you found out that you have been forgiven far more than you previously thought. In the parable one debtor was forgiven five hundred pence and the other fifty. But suppose the person who was forgiven fifty pence found out that there was an accounting error on his part. Suppose that he found out that the real debt was not fifty pence or five hundred pence, but really it was five thousand pence and the creditor knew the true debt all along. This would doubtless change the debtors perspective. More gratitude would flood his heart as he realized his debt was far greater than he had previously thought.
As you read The Word, meditate on the holiness and righteousness of God. The more we bring our sins into focus the more peripheral the sins of others become. Look at your sin and let its ugliness sink in.
Now turn your attention to the cross. The cross is simultaneously a picture of God's wrath and his love. If God were not holy our sin would not bother him. He could excuse it without punishment. But God is holy and his wrath against sin is great. Before Jesus died for us, he lived for us. He lived the perfect life we couldn't so that he could voluntarily pay our debt. When Jesus hung on the cross he bore the wrath of God. Jesus love compelled him to endure the cross. Dear believer, you are the joy set before him. It was his love for you that held him to the cross.
Sometimes Christians grieve over sins but they can't get past the grief. Weeping endures for a night, then a fortnight, then years pass and they still feel depressed. This is usually because of one of two things. First, it may be that the believer doesn't fully comprehend that they are truly forgiven. In this case the solution is to meditate more upon what Christ has done on their behalf. If this is you, and you have placed your trust in Christ, you truly are forgiven.What Christ did on your behalf was sufficient. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 Repent of your unbelief and rejoice in God your savior.
The second issue that leads to sullen saints is overvaluing this present world.When our focus gets too much on missed opportunities, unfulfilled potential, or even the earthly consequences of past sins, it robs us of joy. We may be living with the consequences of passed failures. But the light affliction of this present world is not to be compared to the "far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Again, we need to allow the eternal to become more of our focus. As we seek Christ daily through prayer, reading and meditating on His Word, serving others in Christs name, the eternal becomes more of the focus in our life. This is how we grow in love. The best is yet to come.
2 Corinthians 4:14-18 "Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."