Your Greatest Need Is to Love God More
One time a lawyer came to Jesus and asked Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Note the focus of the man’s question here. He was asking about the Law. Jesus answered his question, saying,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the great and foremost commandment (Matthew 27:37-38).
In response to the man’s question about the greatest law, Jesus answered that it is to love God. Therefore, what could be wrong with telling people they need to love God more? Once again, with some probing we find that what sounds good on the surface doesn’t work in real life. So what’s the answer?
Simple. By our own power, we can’t love God the way that command demands. God knew this, of course, which is one of the reasons He gave the commandment. Just try commanding your children to love each other more. It might be right and a good thing to want, but commanding people to love just doesn’t work. Commanding people who don’t already possess love to love does nothing but expose their inability.
Remember, Jesus was quoting the Law of Moses to people who were under the Law. Pushing the idea that we need to love God more is right in line with the Law. Although it sounds good on the surface, it is actually legalistic teaching. It’s an ironic fact that when a person focuses on the demand to love God more, the whole thing actually backfires and causes him to become painfully aware of how much he lacks in the area of loving God.
That’s the weakness of laws. They are true and right about what we ought to do—but there is no power in them to enable us to do!
The Bible says that when the Law of God confronts us, the result is that it stirs up more sinful passions. Look at these passages:
The Law came in so that the transgression would increase (Romans 5:20).
While we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death (Romans 7:5).
What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead (Romans 7:7-8).
The Law stimulates rebellion against the very thing it demands. So if you focus on how much you should love God, that command will condemn you and cause you to be filled with a sense of guilt. In fact, people often feel that they ought to love God more already. So why don’t they? They can’t. So what is the answer? It’s right there in 1 John 4:19: “We love, because He first loved us.” It isn’t possible to love Him as we want to until we understand how much He loves us. Then, and only then, we will find love for God swelling up within our hearts.
Haven’t you found this to be true in your own life? When you’ve focused on loving Him more, did you feel like you were succeeding? Or did you find yourself literally praying for help to love Him more? Praying, “Lord, help me to love you more” is evidence that you felt you were falling short in that area.
The key to loving God more, then, is to focus on how much He loves us, not on how much we love Him at any given moment in life. Shake free from the lie that the most important thing in your life is to love God more and begin to focus on how much your heavenly Father loves you.
This is why Paul mentions so often in his letters his desire that those to whom he wrote would gain the spiritual understanding of God’s love for them. I suggest you pray the same thing for yourself that you can see in this great passage:
I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehendwith all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19).
I promise you: People who are growing to know deeply the transforming love of God in Jesus Christ in their hearts and minds find that loving God in return comes without need of His command. These are the people who begin discovering what a grace perspective accomplishes in our lives—without a struggle.
As you grow in your understanding of the great love that He has for you, you’ll discover an awakening and motivation within you. In response to His love, you will grow and flourish. You’ll find yourself loving Him more and more (and even loving everybody else around you more and more too).
The idea that the greatest need in your life is to love God more may sound true on the surface, but it is a legalistic lie. The Bible says that God loves us, and everything revolves around that. When you focus on His love for you—instead of your love for Him—you will discover that knowing the love of God for you is a truth that will set you free.
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