Special Features

Love Comes First

“Be very careful to love the Lord your God.” — Joshua 23:11

As the aging Joshua gave his farewell address, he reminded the Israelites of everything God had done for them. The appropriate response to God’s faithfulness, Joshua said, was to “be very careful” to love Him. It’s an act of the will, an intentional response to who He is. But have you ever thought about what it really means to love God?

Many who set out to love God focus on theology. But theology, while important and necessary, makes God an academic subject of study or a philosophical argument to prove. It may be a product of our love for God, but it does not define love. Discussions abound in which God is a premise—a subject viewed through a theologian’s microscope or a philosopher’s telescope—but in which there is no affection. Doctrine is critical for us to grasp, but it is not love. Ask any Sadducee.

Many who set out to love God focus on works. But works, while an essential outgrowth of love for God, can easily become an attempt to gain His approval. In truth, they are not acts of devotion but acts of self-interest. We want a higher esteem in His eyes, something that makes us one of His “insiders.” We end up with a self-righteousness that fills us with brief satisfaction but leaves us empty of love. Ask any Pharisee.

Many who set out to love God focus purely on emotions. But emotions, while a satisfying outgrowth of love, cannot define our love. They are far too fleeting. We end up riding waves of feeling or missing out on them altogether. Love remains constant. Feelings don’t. Ask any zealot.

So how do we love God? We lie at His feet and tell Him we are His. We seek to honor Him in all we do. We want to be like Him. We crave His fellowship. We pray His desires. We are consumed with, obsessed with, and filled with His ways, His works, and His will. The theology, the works, and the feelings will come. They are good—but only after the devotion. Love always comes first.

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by Chris Tiegreen.
Excerpted from indeed magazine.