There is a popular series of books about learning the love language of yourself, your spouse, or your kids. Your love language is basically the way that you feel the most loved by people in your life. While it’s helpful to know how to effectively love your family and friends, do we know how to effectively love God? God does not leave His people clueless about how to love Him. The apostle John tells us three ways to let God know that we love Him.
First, we show God love by not loving the world.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)
In this verse “the world” refers to anything that partakes of the evil nature of Satan. We need to hate sin and stay away from it. Sin is not entertaining. It is not to be delighted in through gossip. It is not funny, cute, or interesting. As Christians, our love for God should be demonstrated through what we watch, listen to, play, and do. Our standard is higher than the world’s standard because our love for God is greater. Our priorities in all we do should be focused on His kingdom and not let anything distract us from God or growing spiritually. For example, a member of our congregation recently missed Sunday night worship services. Why? Her daughter had a recital. What message is this sending about loving God?
Second, we show God love by loving our fellow-man.
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21).
In the context of this letter, John is specifically referring to our Christian brothers and sisters, but when you look at Jesus’ statements about who we should love (Luke 6:27; 10:27-28) all people are easily included. We must love people with both our words and our actions. Use kind and encouraging words to everyone. Stay away from gossip, teasing, and hurtful remarks. Take time to smile and be polite. Use your manners and be respectful. Go above and beyond to help people.
When we first moved to Texas, we were getting settled in and moving our banking, insurance, and car tags from Colorado. anyone who has ever moved knows, it is a long and tiring process. Our insurance agent was very helpful and kind so Luke sent her a bouquet of flowers to say thanks. If you’ve ever worked in public service, you know that appreciative customers are not the norm! While we can’t buy flowers for everyone we encounter, we can make their day better for having been in contact with a Christian who loves God.
Third, we show God we love Him by keeping His commandments.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
There are three components to keeping God’s commands. The first part is that we must learn them. This may seem obvious, but it is hard to obey something that you do not know. The only way to learn God’s commands is to read the Bible. Every time you read a passage look for a command. If the command is applicable to the Christian era, make sure you have obeyed it or are consistently trying to obey it.
The second part in keeping God’s commands is that we must love them. No one likes to be told what to do, but when it comes to obeying God we should love His law. I do not think it is a coincidence that the longest psalm, Psalm 119, is devoted to David’s love of God’s law or commands. David refers to God’s commands as delightful (v.16, 35), longing for them (v.20), loving them (v. 47, 97), and priceless (v.72). These are just a few of the adjectives David uses. Take time to read through this psalm and mark all of the ways David describes how he feels about God’s law. The list looks like how you would describe your feelings about your spouse. David truly loved God and His commands, so we should as well.
The third part in keeping God’s commands is to live them. Learning and loving the commands of God benefit no one unless we practice them (James 1:22-25). We need to get rid of anything that hinders us from obeying God. Hobbies, entertainment, jobs, sin, or people are just a few things that could interfere with our obedience. Periodically ask yourself if your obedience has faltered. If so, determine why and eliminate that thing from your life. The flip side of this is to find people and things that encourage you to be obedient. When I was in college, a friend and I made a pact to only date men who would make us better Christians. Apply this principle to all aspects of your life.
Speaking God’s love language is a daunting task that does not come naturally. However, God never asks us to do anything we are not capable of, but He always makes it difficult enough that we can’t do it without His help. Ask God to help you love Him more and He will be faithful to teach you to love Him better than ever!
Roy H. Lanier, Jr. Epistles of John: Notes on First, Second, and Third John. Quality Publishing, 1992.
By Chelli Gutherie
Chelli and her husband, Luke, work with the Abell St. church of Christ in Wharton, Texas. Luke is the assistant minister and she teaches the Jr. High class on Sunday mornings and teach the Children’s Bible Hour program on Sunday nights. She is a stay-at-home mom to their three kids: Grace Evelyn (6), Sophia Elizabeth (2), and Levi Matthew (2 months).