Foremost of all the things God requires of us is to love Him with all our heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37- 40). Without it we are nothing before God regardless of our sacrifices, 1 Cor. 13:3.
Love can be described as that tender, strong affection by which we are brought to sacrifice for the good of those loved. The validation of love, then, is it’s cost to us. God is love. When we love we are expressing the character and nature of God. Love is the pulse beat of Heaven.
As believers we love God and the Lord Jesus whom we have never seen, and we can rejoice in His salvation and soon return. Jesus said in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love, then, is the very proof of Christianity. Just as Jesus challenged Peter saying “Do you love me more than these,” John 21:15. Jesus will not be satisfied until we love him more than all else.
Where Heaven’s pulse beat is love, earth’s is selfishness. Paul warned in 2 Timothy 3:1 that without love for God the result is carnal bloatedness and love of self. May the Holy Spirit change us from such over emphasis on self to love as God did when he gave is Son.
When we come to God, he gives us his Holy Spirit. The fruit of the indwelling Spirit is love. Without the Holy Spirit there is no love. Our old nature does not love. I John 4:7-11 teaches, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
To the Pharisee who despised the woman bathing Jesus’ feet with her tears, Jesus said in Luke 7:47, “to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” When we realize the largeness of our sin, then we see that we are forgiven and loved by God. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross becomes the trigger launching us into a life of love for God.
Some practical ways we can develop love:
1. Make time spent with God in prayer and searching the Scriptures your first activity each day. It is as vital as nourishment for your body.
2. Take time during the day to recollect your thoughts and center yourself afresh on God. Loving him first we can then love others as the normal outworking of walking and being filled with the Spirit.
3. When faced with temptations, remember your love for God. Our obedience to God stems from our love for Him, not out of slavish obligation to the law.
4. In the dark hours of trials and sufferings, recall that God’s love never fails. Many of God’s greater comforts are displayed in us in the darker moments, as the darkness of the night displays the stars.