Sometimes I sit and wonder. I wonder why I sin so often. I wonder why my resolve fades so quickly. I question why God seems so far away. Why do I get angry? Why do I argue? Why don’t I love people? The list goes on. We call ourselves Christians (if you aren’t a Christian, then check out my testimony) and yet we seem, to ourselves and perhaps to others, so unspiritual.
Imagine you’ve just been hired for a new job. Your boss gives you instructions on how to succeed, then says, “But the most important thing is that you’re on time. You can mess up in other areas, but for you and I to have a successful relationship, you’ve got to be on time.” Would you show up on time? I would. Now, if God gave us such an all- emcompassing, all-important instruction that ensured a solid relationship with Him, wouldn’t we do it? In fact, God gives us just that.
Read what Jesus says in Matthew 22:36-40. First, the Pharisees ask Him a question. Look.
Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?
Then Jesus speaks…
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22:36-40 (NKJ)
So Jesus tells us plainly. The great commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength, with everything that you have and are. This concept isn’t unknown to those familiar with Scripture. Long before the New Testament ever arrived on the scene, the Old Testament writers understood this quite well. In fact, we find this exact phrase, “Love the Lord your God,” nine times in Deuteronomy alone. God seeks to have a relationship with us, and we are presented with a choice: love God or not. It’s up to us. So now that we know what the key to being spiritual is, how do we accomplish it? How do we love God with all our hearts?
Well, the answer is simpler than you might think. In fact, this article may seem overly simplistic to some. But God isn’t the author of confusion. He presents the most simplistic of choices to us. Either love Me or don’t. You see, He doesn’t need to prove His love for us. He’s already given the life of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. He poured out His wrath on Jesus when He died on the cross for our sins. He’s already given us the ultimate. His Son. And not only that, He gave His Son for people who had turned against Him. To Him, when we commit sin, it’s like we’re committing adultery. Think about it. He hates sin, probably like we would hate it if our spouses committed adultery (if you’re not married, then think about your significant other cheating on you). And even though humanity reviled Him and turned against Him time after time, He still gave His only Son for all people. Would you give your only child (or any child) for someone who committed adultery or cheated on you over and over? I doubt it. What if the person were someone you loved and had never hurt you? Would you give your child’s life then? No. Of course not. You would never give your own child’s life for someone else. Yet that’s what God did for us. And not only that, He piled up all our sins (remember, sin is disgusting to God) on Jesus while He hung on the cross. So you see, God has proven His love for us beyond any shadow of any doubt. It’s up to us to prove our love to Him. And since this is the great commandment, it’s also the key to living a spiritual life, to overcoming sin, and to knowing God. IT IS, BY FAR, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE CAN DO IN OUR LIVES. So now, on to the answer of how we can love God with all our being.
Think about how you have a relationship with someone. First you get to know them, then you start hanging out more and more, until you feel comfortable together. At that point, you begin to seek out the company of one another, and you spend time together talking. If you didn’t talk to someone, you wouldn’t know them. If you ignored your spouse, they wouldn’t know you. Same goes for your children or friends. Without talking, there’s no knowing. Without dialogue, there’s no relationship. Now what if your friend always called you, wanting to spend time with you, but you never called him or her back? You would be showing to them, by your lack of communication, that you didn’t care too much about getting together with them. Or what if your child constantly asked you to play ball with him, but you only did it once every six months? Your child would know that you didn’t have a lot of time or concern for his wants and needs. You get the point. If you don’t talk to someone that you claim to know or be close to, then you really don’t care too much about them. You have to talk to them to prove your commitment to them. The same reasoning holds true with God. Why do you think that God’s Word tells us that
Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
Matthew 7:22-23 (NKJ)
I think that God doesn’t know lots of people who claim to know Him because the people really don’t know Him! They haven’t taken the time to get to know Him. They haven’t talked to Him.
In addition to talking with someone, it’s important when we talk to that person. If we only talk to them at church on Sundays, are we showing true dedication to them? No. If we talk to them on our lunch break at work every day, are we really proving that we desire to have a deep relationship with them? No. We prove our commitment by taking time out of our schedule to spend with them. Of course, people appreciate it when you speak with them at lunch or on Sundays, but your relationship will be, at best, shallow. A deep relationship comes when we take time from our busy schedule to spend with them. When we come home from work and call them up, we’re showing our desire to deepen our relationship. When we invite them to dinner, we’re proving that we want them around. When we help them move, when we talk about personal things, when we take care of their pets, when we spend our own free time with them, we’re showing them that we love them, that we care for them. The same reasoning applies to our relationship with God. If we only pray on Sunday when the pastor prays, are we proving to God that we love Him? No. When we talk to Him before dinner, are we saying, “God, I love you with my whole being?” No. When we pray before bed, are we revealing a deep desire to have a deep, close, personal relationship with God? No. When we come home from work and don’t play on the computer, but talk to God we show Him that we care. When we take time from Saturday night to pray earnestly to God instead of going bowling we prove our dedication to Him. When we don’t relax in front of the TV but bring our fears and wants to Him we give Him a reason to think that we love Him.
Do you love Him? Or is your free time just for you? He loves you. He wants your friendship. Are you giving it to Him? I Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “pray without ceasing.” That means all the time. Do we talk to God all the time? How’s our spiritual life? If it’s suffering, we’re probably NOT in communion with the awesome, holy, perfect God of Gods. Does sin have us in a stranglehold? If it does, our relationship with Jesus is failing in some way. But we can overcome. Remember, Jesus Himself gives us the key to life. He tells us the most important thing. We need to love Him with all that we are.
What if you spent an entire week writing a letter to someone you loved? Would you be disappointed if they didn’t read it? Yes, of course. God has done this for us. He’s written us a letter, and given us everything we need to know to deepen our relationship with Him. It’s the Bible. We need to read it. Reading His letter is another way that we can prove to Him that we love Him. He’s given us the best-selling book of all time. We can read it any time we want to. Do we? If we don’t, we’re telling God flat-out, “I don’t care what you’ve written to me.” Is that showing love? I don’t think so.
Talking with God often, as you would with a friend, and reading His letter to us are two ways we can fulfill the great commandment. Are we going to continue to let sin have its way with us? Are we going to continue to be in bondage? Are we going to let your addictions and the lures of the world control us? The only way to overcome the temptations the evil one throws our way is to love Jesus. In order to be spiritual, we’ve got to prove our commitment to the God who’s proven His commitment to us. We have to know Him. We must have a relationship with Him. He loves us. He’s proven that over the ages. It’s up to us to prove our love to Him. He’s waiting. Give Him your life. Give Him your time. Talk to Him. Read His letter. Make Him your friend. I guarantee your life will change. Forever.
Do You Know Him?