If you’re like me, you want to love God more, but you’re not quite sure how to go about making that happen. What does that look like, anyway? In John 14:15, Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Therefore, obeying God is connected to loving Him.
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment is, He replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:370. So, according to the Son of God, loving God is at the top of the list. And we must love Him wholeheartedly, with ALL that is within us.
What Are You Feeding?
Understand that whatever you feed will grow. If you feed a plant, it will grow—but if you don’t feed it, it dies. What does this have to do with loving God?
If we feed our flesh (body) with whatever it craves, it will get stronger. Of course, physical starvation isn’t what we’re talking about here, but when our body wants something and we say “yes,” it will want more. If we constantly entertain ourselves, we will want more entertainment. If we continually give ourselves whatever food we desire, our body will crave even more food.
But if we feed our spirit, our spirit will get stronger, and that’s what we want. If we want to love God more deeply, we must change our appetite, and we do that by feeding our spirit the Word of God, praying more, giving more time and money to God, and attending church more, just to name a few. When we choose to read our Bible and pray rather than watch a television show, we are feeding our spirit and starving our flesh, and over time, our love for God will increase.
1. Increase Your Obedience to God’s Word
Continuing on with the theme of feeding, we must feed on and devour the Word of God to increase our love for God. Daily, we must read its stories and learn from the mistakes that others made. We must read about our Savior Jesus and study how He lived and what He taught His followers. We must read the Bible to see how to live, think and treat others, applying it to our lives every day.
However, if we read the Bible and ignore what it says, James says we only deceive ourselves: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. … But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22,25). Obeying God and His Word is always linked to His blessings!
We must decide that what the Bible says is what we will do. What the Bible teaches, we will believe. What the Bible says, we will put into practice. As we make these changes, we will get closer to God, drawing Him nearer with our obedience.
2. Stop Neglecting Prayer
Throughout the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), we see that Jesus often broke away from the people and His disciples to pray. If the very Son of God needed time alone with His Father, how much more do we need to do the same?
The truth is, lack of prayer is a sign of unbelief and pride. If we sincerely believed that prayer would make a difference, we would be praying a lot more. If we’ll be honest with ourselves, not praying indicates that we don’t really believe that it will change things. When we don’t pray, we proudly believe that we can handle things ourselves and don’t need to involve God.
Prayer doesn’t have to be fancy and complicated; prayer is talking to God and listening to Him with an open heart and mind. An easy way to pray more is to make it part of your daily routine by starting your morning with prayer.
Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
3. Forgive Everyone—No Exceptions
This may not be something we want to hear, but it’s the truth. Jesus said, “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15). We cannot receive what we are unwilling to give. We must forgive others if we want God to forgive us.
Paul knew that unforgiveness and offense are rooted in pride. When we are offended, we believe that our rights have been violated and that we’ve been wronged. But Paul said in Acts 24:16, “I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” He prayed for fellow Christians “that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:10).
Unforgiveness and offense are all about self. Even when people don’t seem sorry or refuse to apologize, even when we truly feel taken advantage of and hurt, even when they don’t “deserve” it, God expects us to forgive. As Christians who want to love God more, we must release everything that we hold against anyone. The freedom that follows is truly miraculous.
4. Deny Self
This is another not-so-popular subject, but again, it is the truth. In Luke 9:23-24, Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
It’s not exactly “human nature” to die to self. In fact, we want to preserve and save ourselves, not die to ourselves! Jesus knew how powerful self really is. When self rules, we decide how to live, act, and think. The cross symbolized death—Jesus was saying that we needed to put pride and self to death so that God could help us live, act and think His way.
In the same way, we must surrender our wills to His will. Jesus was our example in this: just before His crucifixion, He prayed, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus demonstrated His incredible love for His Father when He yielded even to death. Likewise, when we surrender our self and will to God, when we choose what He wants instead of what we want, we demonstrate our love of God.
5. Reject Worldly Mindsets
The ways of the world are contrary to the ways of God. Paul said in Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
We must constantly evaluate our thoughts and mindsets, comparing them to the Word of God. If we find ideas or beliefs that contradict the Bible, we must reject them. We must be careful not to participate in anything that encourages worldly thoughts, opinions or mindsets. Colossians 3:2 instructs us, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Loving God more doesn’t just happen all by itself. If we want to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, then we have to do our part – we have to feed and strengthen our spirit by studying the Bible, talking to God regularly, freely forgiving others, denying our self and our way, and rejecting worldliness.
~ by Jennell Houts