“There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friend…” John 15:13. Indeed Jesus demonstrated this when He accepted to come and save us from eternal destruction (John 3:16). God is so interested in love that the greatest commandments are about love: that is, to love God and your neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). In this article, I will share six biblical principles that will help you know some of the ways to express your love to God.
The online oxford dictionary defines obedience as “compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another’s authority“. Obedience is simply doing what you have been told to do. In this context you know you love God if you do what he tells you to do. This is seen in John 14:15 when Jesus said “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” There are many ways of responding to these commandments; submitting to the bible and Catechism instructions, adhering to the teachings of the church, obeying your priests, paying attention to your dreams and convictions, being intentional on knowing what God wants you to do in any given situation etc. In whatever way that God might use to instruct you, endeavor to respond positively. Despite the fact that submission to God is not a must, disobedience could have dire consequences on your life. Moses learnt this the hard way. He never made it to the Promised Land simply because he disobeyed God (Numbers 20: 7-12). Thus, in everything that you do strive to be obedient to your father in heaven.
Love is sacrificial. Thus loving God involves letting go of something treasured for the good of His kingdom. I believe you have ever surrendered something you loved for the good of those you cared for. It could have been time, money, possessions, or comfort. Similarly, loving God requires a similar attitude that is seen in John 21: 15-19 when Peter accepted to care for God’s people. He did this by preaching, healing (Acts 3), counseling etc. at the expense of abandoning his fishing Career (Mat 4:18-22, John 21; 19). This reminds me of the Reverend that ministers to us at work. He left his career in Law to concentrate on full time ministry. I bet it wasn’t an easy decision to make. So then, you ought to be willing to give up your resources for God’s sake.
3. Accept to be hated by the world.
Paul in Romans 12:1-2 advises Christians not to conform to the standards of the world. As Christians we need to live by God’s standards and as a result we should expect rebuke from the world. This however, should not surprise you because Jesus clearly spoke about it in John 15:18-21. Hence, let your focus be on upholding your godly principles for the glory of your Father in Heaven.
“There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friend…”John 15:13
4. To believe God even when you don’t understand Him.
As Christians there are times we come face to face with things or situations that we don’t understand yet the expectation to remain faithful to God remains ( Romans 8:30). There are times I read the bible and I honestly fail to understand God. For instance, why did 36 Israelites and Achan’s family die for Achan’s personal disobedience (Joshua 7:1-26)? This blew my mind. Seriously, I felt it was not fair. Later, I realised that I wasn’t the first person to experience this. In John 6: 25-70, Jesus taught about the importance of eating his body and drinking his blood. Many people thought that Jesus was telling them to practice cannibalism (vs. 52). As a result, they stopped following him (Vs.66). Despite this, the twelve disciples believed and never left Jesus even when he gave them that opportunity (Vs. 67-68). But then what should you do when you find yourself in this kind of situation? In Luke 8:4-9 Jesus in his teaching used the parable of the sower which was not understood by the Congregation. However, the disciples later on sought an explanation from Jesus to help them understand. This is the spirit that we need to bring on board instead of running away even though an answer might delay for some things are understood later (John 2:18-22). Therefore, regardless of what you might experience never stop believing in God.
5. To worship and Praise God even when our prayers are not answered the way we expected.
Matthew 26:39 ” He went a little farther and fell to the ground, with his face touching the earth, and prayed, “Father, if it is possible, take this cup away from me. Yet, not what I will, but what you will ” Jesus prayed to God to excuse Him from the painful experience of dying on the cross but God didn’t do what Jesus wanted. Instead of being angry at God, Jesus sought Him more. He never denounced his Father. I have had to apply this principle during a trying period of loss. Last year in July, my ailing aunt contracted COVID 19. Despite fervent pray for her recovery, she died in less than ten days. It was very painful. Through all this I chose to console myself in the Lord believing she went to a better place. Sometimes in moments like these, you will be asked where your God is (Psalms 42:10) and what He is doing to help you but do not let undesirable answers to your prayers or mockery from people drive you away from God. This will sincerely show your love for God.
6. To completely trust God
To love God is to completely put your trust in Him even when circumstances around you seem not to agree. Abraham was a man who spent many years without a child. God promised him an heir and this child was born to him at 100 years (Gen 21:5). The first time God told Abraham about descendants, he was 75 years old (Gen 12:4, 7). This could mean that Abraham waited for 25 years to get Isaac. Imagine after this long wait…God surprises Abraham with a command…to sacrifice his son (Gen 22:2). I imagine this reaction between Abraham and God; “God! Wait a minute! What did you just say? And God replied ” you heard me right, give me your only hope and treasure”. Regardless of how Abraham might have felt, he obeyed by taking his beloved heir to the sacrificial alter. But before harming the child God provided a lamb for sacrifice. It was only a test that Abraham passed. Child of God, would you give up your only hope for God? I bet it is only love that would compel you to do it.
Therefore, Love is an action verb that is expressed through what we do. Thus, to love God is to obey, believe in Him, trust Him, letting go of what you treasure for His kingdom, worshiping and praising Him even when He does not do things your way. As your mouth proclaims how much you love God, May your actions too depict the same for the glory of your father in heaven.