Watch Loving God video.
Key Scripture: Matthew 22:34-40
I. Introduction: If you ask the average person if he loves God, his answer will probably be “yes.” However, many people who sincerely believe they love the Lord are mistaken. Sadly, they may not even know Him. Words alone are no proof of love. In fact, we use the word love rather loosely, ascribing it to the most treasured people in our lives as well as our trivial preferences.
Love is a major issue with God. When the Pharisees challenged Jesus to name the greatest commandment, He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). That’s why the Lord should have such a prominent place in our hearts that our love for Him permeates every area of our lives.
II. Misconceptions about Loving God. Tragically, many people don’t understand how to truly love God. Even sincere believers can miss out on this awesome experience because of the following misconceptions:
A. Mistaking the fear of the Lord for love of Him. We can revere God by recognizing He is holy and just, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we have fully given our hearts, souls, and minds to Him.
B. Confusing our need with love. Most of us are quick to bring our cares and concerns to the Lord in prayer because we need His help, but that may merely be evidence of our need for Him, not love of Him.
C. Equating serving God with loving Him. Instead of being motivated by devotion to Christ, some people simply enjoy the satisfaction that comes with serving.
D. Assuming giving is always a sign of love. If we simply put money into the offering plate because we’ve been taught to give or because we know we should, love for God plays no part in our generosity.
E. Thinking that religious acts equal love for God. Singing, teaching, preaching, and sharing the gospel may not be expressions of love if they are done only out of obligation.
III. Why don’t people love the Lord? Some people say they love God but want nothing to do with Jesus. However, since the Father and Son are one, no one who rejects Christ can love God (John 14:1). Although the Lord’s love extends to all people, many reject Him because:
A. They don’t know Him.
B. They’re afraid of the Lord’s judgment.
C. They’re uncomfortable because their sin doesn’t mix with His holiness.
D. They don’t want to alter their lifestyles.
E. They think loving the Lord would inhibit their conduct.
F. They feel uncertain about God and the future because they have no assurance concerning what awaits them at death.
G. They can’t understand why the Lord allows tragedies, natural disasters, wars, and accidents to happen. What they don’t realize is that ultimately God has a purpose in whatever He permits.
IV. Why should we love God? The Lord is an awesome heavenly Father, and if we don’t love Him, we lose out on the greatest relationship we can experience. Furthermore, we can’t truly love other people until we first love the Lord because He enables us to love the unlovely. And the more we learn about Him, the more reasons we’ll discover to love Him. Consider that:
A. The Lord created us. The sovereign Ruler of the universe wanted each one of us, and He is the only reason we exist.
B. He’s given us His Son. Jesus came into the world for two primary reasons—to show us the Father in a deeper, more personal way and to give His life as a ransom so we could be forgiven and have an intimate relationship with the Lord.
C. God has made commitments to us. This alone should provide the motivation we need to love Him with all our hearts. For example, we know:
1. The Lord will never leave nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5).
2. He’ll supply all our needs (Phil. 4:19).
3. God will answer our prayers (Matt. 7:7; John 14:14).
4. He has forgiven us all our sins (1 John 1:9).
5. The Lord has given each of us at least one spiritual gift that enables us to live productive, fruitful lives and accomplish whatever He calls us to do.
6. He fills us with the Holy Spirit who empowers us to live in a way that pleases and honors Him.
7. Christ has prepared a place for us in Heaven and will someday come back to take us there (John 14:2-3).
8. The Lord will give us beautiful and perfect resurrected bodies.
9. Through Jesus, we can have personal relationships with God that transcend any other human relationship.
V. Evidence of Our Love. When we genuinely love the Lord, our lives and lifestyles will be transformed. We will:
A. Desire to obey Him.
B. Want to serve Him.
C. Delight in sharing Him with others.
D. Trust Him.
E. Crave fellowship with Him.
F. Desire to worship Him.
G. Seek to give to Him.
H. Want to defend Him and the gospel.
I. Meditate on His Word.
J. Be willing to suffer for Him.
IV. Conclusion: If we genuinely love the Lord, our lives will show it, and others will notice something different about us. We’ll have inner satisfaction and contentment that no amount of success, prosperity, or popularity can provide. That’s because we were created to love God, and no other pursuit will satisfy us.