Have you ever asked yourself, “How do I know if I really love God?” Maybe you tell God you do and you do a lot of the things He tells you to do like read your Bible, go to church, tithe, try to live holy, etc, but how do you really know?
The good new is there is a way to know. Look at John 13:34-35:
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This passage implies our love for Jesus is demonstrated by how we love other people. 1 John 2 confirms this:
9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
Sometimes we measure our relationship with God by how much scripture we know, how long or often we pray, and how holy we live. These are all important things, but God looks on a deeper level. From God’s perspective we reveal love for Him by how we love others. Said another way, loving others is a diagnostic test that reveals how much we really love God.
Some of you reading this right now are probably feeling a sting of conviction and maybe even condemnation. If that’s you, I’ve got good news. God never reveals a problem without also providing a solution. If you struggle to love others, you probably have a deficiency in receiving the love of God for yourself. We cannot give what we haven’t first received. God wants you to receive His unconditional love you for you so you can have the capacity to love other people the way He does. This happens in at least two ways:
- Knowing truth. The truth is Jesus loves you passionately and unconditionally apart from your performance. His opinion about you and passion for you doesn’t change when you mess up. If you think it does, this means you receive love based on meeting certain conditions. This is how you will extend love toward other people. You will love them when they are lovely, but when they are difficult you will stop loving them. If you’d like to learn more about the unconditional love of God, check out this message I taught at Easter.
- Experiencing God’s love by experience. Ephesians 3:14-21 records a prayer Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus. He prayed they would experience the love of God in a way that passes intellectual knowledge. As important as it is to know truth, it’s the truth that leads us into experience that completely changes us. I’ve had a handful of these experiences in my life with love of God. They’ve marked me. Because of them, you can’t talk me out of how crazy God is about me. These are experiences that go past mere head knowledge. Experiences like this will mark you and shift things in you so you will see God in a new light. When you see God in a new light by experiencing His radical love, you will be able to love others in a greater way. If you’d like to learn more about how to experience God’s love in a way that extends beyond mere head knowledge, check out this message I taught a couple of years ago.
God wants your love, but the only way you can give that to Him is by first experiencing His love for you. When you do, your love for God will be demonstrated by how you love others. I hope this article has both challenged and encouraged you. If you have additional questions or need prayer, please respond back to this article or call our church office at 336-203-4823. We love you and are praying for you!