February 10, 2010
How to Grow in Love for God
"Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name! For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations." Psalm 100:4b-5 (AMP)
I remember the late-night conversation with my dad, the one I'd been praying would naturally arise. The one about God, and Jesus, and salvation. I'd understood these things myself for the first time a few months before, and now it was my desperate hope that my dad would understand them too. But even more than grasping their meaning, I wanted my dad to be drawn to them, to feel them—to experience their truth for himself.
My dad has a strong intellect and I knew the likelihood was high that Dad would settle for a mere understanding of my newfound passion. Yet I longed for my dad to come to love this King of Glory in a way that would propel him to follow Christ.
"But how am I supposed to love someone I can't even see?" Dad said.
His words were ordered as a question but I couldn't quite tell if he was asking, or simply dismissing. Either way, I didn't know how to answer him. But I do now. I now realize a huge key to loving Jesus is gratitude.
1 John 4:19 explains, "We love Him, because He first loved us" (AMP). Even though we were sinful and He is holy, God loved us. Even though we were ignorant or hostile towards Him, He still loved us. Even though we were intent on making our own way in life, He still made a path for us—Jesus—leading to life with Him. It takes belief in this fact, and gratitude for it, for a heart to truly love God in return.
The religious leaders of Jesus' day, the Pharisees, were masters at following God's laws, but failures at loving Him. In Luke 7, a Pharisee invited Jesus over for dinner. A prostitute entered the dining room, knelt and began weeping, kissing, and wiping Jesus' feet with her hair. Then she perfumed them. The Pharisee grew indignant that Jesus allowed this from such a sinful woman.
So Jesus asked the Pharisee a question: If a moneylender cancelled the debts of two men—one that owed him $5,000, and one that owed him $50—which one would love him more after that? "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled," the Pharisee answered (Luke 7:43, NIV). Jesus told him he was correct. Then Jesus added:
"Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn't offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn't greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love." (Luke 7:44-47, NLT)
This woman realized the magnitude of her sins, and the extent of God's love for her to forgive all those sins and bid her to come to Him. And she was grateful. She was so thankful, that her heart overflowed with love for Jesus, sparking her extravagant display of affection and appreciation.
There is a direct correlation between our level of awareness of what we deserve—an awareness of our own sin—and our level of gratitude and love for God. A key to growing in love for God is to be aware of what He has done, is doing, and will do for us, and to remain grateful for it.
No one will ever do more for you than Christ has done—open your eyes to this fact today and be filled with gratitude. "Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name! For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations" (Psalm 100:4b-5).
Dear Lord, I am thankful today for the love You showed me, long before I even noticed it. I'm grateful for Your blessings and grace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
To learn more about loving God through gratitude, visit Rachel's blog
God's Purpose for Every Woman: a Compilation of Favorite P31 Devotions by various Encouragement for Today authors; Gen Editors Rachel Olsen and Lysa TerKeurst
Saying Thank You offers practical ways to give gratitude to God
Come Along: The Journey into a More Intimate Faith by Jane Rubietta
Reflect on the many reasons you have to be grateful to God. Rejoice and praise Him!
No one will ever do more for you than God, through Christ, has already done.
How does your perspective on today change when you consider the tremendous gifts of grace, mercy, love and eternal life given you through Christ?
1 Chronicles 16:34, "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." (NIV)
Hebrews 12:28, "Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;" (NASB)
© 2010 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Wednesday, 10 February 2010.