GROW IN LOVE FOR GOD
Love Is Foundational
The entire Scripture is founded on the two greatest commandments: love God and love others. Love God first and the outflow is to love others. “Nothing is more critical than this commandment.” – John McArthur
Christianity is more than just believing in Jesus. You cannot claim to believe in Jesus and not love Him. If you love Him, you will obey Him. You can try to obey the commandments of God without love, but you cannot love God without obeying Him.
How Do You Grow In Loving God?
Peter thought that he loved Jesus enough. He readily told Jesus that he would never fall away even if others would (Mark 14:29-30). He said he would never deny Him even if he had to die (v.31).
All the other disciples said the same thing. But when Jesus was betrayed and put on trial, they kept their distance. Not only did Peter deny Jesus three times, but he also lied and swore that he was not one of Jesus’ disciples (Luke 22:54-55, Mark 14:66-72).
Like Peter, we have failed Jesus many times. In the face of our failures, we lose hope. Can we blame Peter for going back to fishing after disappointing Jesus (John 21:3-4)? He probably thought he did not deserve to be a follower of Christ anymore.
To grow in love, embrace your disappointments. Your capacity to grow in love is proportionate to your capacity to handle and process the pain of failures and disappointments.
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – C.S. Lewis
When things are doing well, we seldom hear or listen to God. But when we fail, we clearly hear Him speak. To grow in love, do not give up despite your failures.
Jesus had first found Peter at the Sea of Galilee. Peter and his brother had cast their net the whole night without catching a single fish (Luke 5:1-9). Jesus told them what to do, and their nets overflowed with fish.
After His death and resurrection, Jesus found Peter again, fishing. Again, Peter had caught nothing, so Jesus told him what to do, and he caught an overwhelming number of fish (John 21:1-7). This was the same scenario, but Peter responded differently.
In the first encounter, he wanted Jesus to leave because Peter felt unworthy. But the second time, he threw himself into the sea toward Jesus. He finally understood the gospel. He experienced firsthand the grace and unconditional love of Jesus. Despite Peter’s failing, Jesus did not change. He still loved Peter.
How Much Do You Love God?
Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me more than these?” Peter said yes. Then Jesus told him to feed His sheep. This happened three times (John 21:15-17).
Sheep are messy, dumb and smelly. They need a shepherd. If we love Jesus, we will love people even if they are messy and problematic. The foundation of discipleship is love.
Sometimes Christianity seems complicated. But when we understand the heart of God, we can see that He simply wants us to love Him. The essence of following Jesus is love.
Jesus did not scold or reprimand Peter for abandoning and denying Him. He only asked if Peter loved Him. The root of Peter’s sin and ours is idolatry, loving something else more than God.
Do you love God? As committed followers of Christ, our values must be based on our love for God and others. We must be known for being lovers of God.
The very nature of love demands 100%. To love God is to love Him with all of our heart, soul and mind (Luke 10:27). How much do you love God? Do you love Him more than anything else?
1. Why did Jesus say that the Law and the prophets depend on the two greatest commandments as He said it in Matthew 22:36-40?
2. How much do you love Jesus? Search your heart; is there anything that you love more than Jesus?
3. How can you prove that you love God 100%? How will you show that you are willing to truly follow Jesus because you love Him, with all your heart, soul and mind?
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