Part 1: Love the Lord
Wednesday 1 Feb, 2023
What characterises the life of a Christian? Your answer will largely depend on your experience. You may say that a Christian is characterised by following certain traditions, by obeying certain norms within Christian-culture. You may jump to actions and think about Bible reading, church attendance, prayer and other kinds of Christian disciplines. But at the very core being a Christian means following Jesus and becoming more like Him, it also means being characterised by the love that we have been shown by God.
Love is one of the many things that should characterise the life of a Christian. Over the next four months I want us to unpack together four of the key ’loves’ that should be seen in the life of every Christian and that should, we pray, be growing in our lives as individual believers and as a church family. The four loves are; love the Lord, love His Word, love His people and love the lost.
The first of these four loves is; Love the Lord.
As we’ve seen in the beginning of our series on Genesis, the Lord has given us lots of reasons to love Him, and that’s just from the first few verses in the Bible. He’s created a beautiful world for us to live in, He’s given us life, He’s designed us to live in community, He’s given us purpose and ultimately, He has given us Himself by revealing Himself to us and by sending His Son, Jesus.
But what does it practically look like to love the Lord and how can we grow in that love? We don’t have the space to unpack everything that loving the Lord means, but here are four key things I’d like to mention:
1. Being satisfied in Him
One of the passages that many Christians run to for encouragement and strength to face their day to day struggles is in Philippians 4:11-13, where Paul famously says “I can do all things through him who gives me strength”. That statement of faith and confidence in God is the reason Paul has contentment, the reason he is satisfied, because he knows Jesus and all the wonderful gifts God had given him. Paul in his time of need and troubles, of which there were many, reminded himself of the gospel and the grace of God that called him, saved him and sent him to share Jesus with others. We can be satisfied in God because He has given us the solution to our biggest need - our sin and separation from Him, God knows everything we need and His good plan for us will be fulfilled. Growing in our knowledge of who God is will mean that our satisfaction in Him grows.
2. Believing in His Word
God has graciously given us the Bible ins which we learn about who God is, about our world and about ourselves. For Christians the Bible isn’t an optional extra that we can dip into when we need a ‘pick me up’, but it is the living Word of God, breathed out by God and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training each other in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Taking God at His Word is important, it’s how we know His will for our lives, it’s how we know how to live for God’s glory and it’s one of the main ways that we grow in our understanding of who God is.
3. Obeying His commands
Obeying the One who created us, the One who made us with a plan and a purpose, and the One who lovingly knows what is best for us, not only makes sense, but it’s also one of the ways that we worship Him and express our love for Him. It means that we recognise His authority over us as our Lord. Obedience flows out of our love of God and we obey God’s commands out of thankfulness for what He has done for us. 1 John 2:3-6 gets us to the crux of this: “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”
Obedience to God’s commands is an expression of our faith and one of the evidences in our lives that we have a living and active faith and a wholehearted love for our Saviour.
4. Thanking Him for His gifts
Growing up it is highly likely that the importance of saying please and thank you was drilled into you. Saying thank you recognises someone’s work and it shows appreciation for what they have done. As Christians we have a multitude of things that we can thank God for, but the greatest gift that we have been given is our salvation, as Paul says in Ephesians 2 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” These four points just scratch the surface of what it means to love the Lord, and my prayer is that we, as a whole church family, would grow in that love as we go about our daily lives learning to be satisfied in the situations that God has placed us in, reading and trusting in God’s Word and promises, obeying His commands as a sign of our faith and always thanking Him for the gifts that he gives His children every day.
We serve a wonderful God and the more we understand His goodness, the more we’ll grow in our love for Him.