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Learning to Love
4 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. [Deuteronomy 6:4-5 NASB]
28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; 30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ 31 “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
[Mark 12:28-31 NASB]
] 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. [1Corinthians 13:2 NASB)
All we need is love! Simple enough reality. But how can we come to experience love towards God or our neighbor? Love is a moral duty but how can we attain love?
Now, for some people this is not hard. They tell people they love them all the time, sing about their love for God in worship without hesitation, and would claim that they are overflowing with love. For them, proclaiming love and claiming to be loving is simple.
For others, they hesitate to say they love others. To them such a demand is overwhelmingly hard. They struggle to feel the passion, care, and concern which love would seem to demand. The songs they sing in worship about loving God seem hyperbole and hypocritical. If they do claim to love people it is in a very tight circle of friends and family. For them, proclaiming and claiming love is complex.
What does it mean to love?
When we are inwardly motivated with passion to act for the pleasure, well-being, and true good of another we are in the state of love. Now we can have degrees of love, confusion in expressing our love, and other feelings mixed with our love. But inward motivation to rightly bless another, that is the core of love.
But what leads us to that motivation?
Love comes out of our inward understanding of who another person is and the value we put on that other person because of that understanding. A mother understands a child to be her child, flesh of her flesh, bone of her bone, and gives to the child then great and abiding value that may not change, regardless of the child’s behavior. But it depends on how that mother understands the value of the child.
Perhaps the mother see the child as a burden, a mistake, or reflects a lover she now hates. Then this understanding does not cause her to desire the well-being of the child but perhaps a wish to bring to the child harm.
So, the story we tell about a person, who they are will determine if we love them or stay in love with them.
If I want to fall in love with someone, I must tell myself a positive, powerful, and passionate story about who they are in my soul. Only as I sing this “song of praise” to my spirit will it create love in my heart for the one I want to love.
If we want to love God, we must have a story about God that wins our hearts, awes us, and convinces our minds. To the degree such a story dominates our lives, then to this extent we will love God.
That is why we must preach the gospel to ourselves. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the story of Messiah Jesus. Out of that story of faith will come a wild abiding love. A God, who bleeds for us to bring us home, humbles HIMSELF to exult us, and suffers hell fire on the cross to pay the price of our rebellion against HIM; this is a God who could inspire our love.
So, love cannot be “willed up” by a determined decision. The will can choose to seek out a story that encourages faith, debate lies that hide the truth, and seek experiences which will help us believe that God is good, great, and full of grace. But our wills cannot make us love God.
So, if you want to fall in love with God.
Expose yourself to a gospel, a story of a God who tears HIS heart out to save you, and bankrupts heaven to bring you home safe. In that environment, the Holy Spirit will give you the gift of love.