The primary response to a holy and righteous God is unwavering love. The deeper ones love for God is, the closer they will walk with Him and the more glory they will bring to His name. The object of one’s deepest love is what is most important in their life whether it be their time, talents, or treasures. As Matthew 6:19-34 states, our heart will always provide for what it values most and as Kenneth Boa points out, “If we value God first, our capacity to love Him and others will expand, [but] if we value the world first, we will miss out on not only the joys of knowing God but also the joys of this life.” 1 John 2:15-17 warns us of the dangers of loving the world and the things in it and makes it abundantly clear if anyone’s’ love is for the world; the love of the Father is not in them. Our relationship with God should be our first love as Boa continues to highlight, “Because the infinite and personal God loves us, He wants us to grow in an intimate relationship with Him; this is the purpose for which we were created – to know, love, enjoy, and honor the triune Lord of all creation.”
God’s love for us is the only reason we have faith and hope and it is only through His love for us that we are able to love Him in return. Boa demonstrates how, “We bear the image of God, but we are ensnared in trespasses and sins. We are capable of harnessing the forces of nature but are unable to rule our tongue; we are the most wonderful and creative beings on this planet but the most violent, cruel, and contemptible of earth’s inhabitants.” When love is the wellspring of our life and our motivator, we are capable of changing the world through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, but when love of one’s self is the driving force; only evil will ensue. The love of God is amazing in its endless attributes; it is: causeless, measureless, and ceaseless. Nothing we can do will earn more of God’s love or lose any of it and as Romans 8:35-39 assures us as believers; nothing can separate us from God’s unending love.
In the Old Testament’s Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4) and the New Testament’s Great Commandment (Mark 12:30 and Matthew 22:35-40) we see the importance of loving God completely with our entire being. Any action, attribute, or emotion, which brings glory to His name, can be traced back to our love of God. Our fear, faith, obedience, worship, delight, reverence, service, and even our submission to Him all are birthed out of our love for God. God’s word calls believers to love the Lord with all their heart, will all their soul, with their entire mind, and with all their strength. It is through loving the Lord that believers truly come to know Him and the more we know and love the Lord, the more willing and trusting we are to carry out our purpose in bring glory to His name. Love is at the very core of the nature of God as Boa illuminates, “Christianity is not a religion but a relationship that is born out of the Trinitarian love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” To truly know God is to love Him with everything we are and in everything we do. We are able to love because He first loved us and as John 15:10 explains, if we really love the Lord, we will obey His commands.
Boa summarizes the importance of love saying, “Our great task in the spiritual life is to will to do His will, to love the things He loves, and to choose the things He sets before us as good.” Loving God not only allows us to love ourselves; it allows us to love the people in our lives. It is by our love for others that the world will know we are His disciples and it is only through our loving relationships that they will be open to the supernatural transformation that God wants to do in their life.
Boa, Kenneth. Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.