The Dancing Puritan

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Reasons to Love God

Is it enough to love the Lord only because He exists and is omnipotent?

Years ago I heard Dr. R. C. Sproul say (and I paraphrase), "The omnipotence of God is not a comfort to us if God is not good."  In other words, God's power is a comfort because of God's goodness.  If God is not good then His absolute power would give us no reason for confidence.

Why should we love God?  Should we love God simply because He is real and powerful?

We know from the Bible that we are to love everyone, including our enemies.  We are therefore to love people who are not inclined to love us, who show us no goodwill and who care nothing for us.

But is that true concerning our response to God?

The Psalmist says, I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.  Because he inclined his ear to me...(Psalm 116:1-2a).

He loved God because God had been loving to him.  There is, at least, the implication that he would not or could not have loved God--if God had not been loving towards him.  The Psalmist loved God because God had done certain things.  The reasons that he loved God are some of the same reasons that we are to love God.

1.  Because God hears the prayers of his people.

God's ears are not deaf to the cries of His children.  We would not think highly of a parent that closed his ears to the cries of his child.  We would think that parent to be unloving. God demonstrates his love by hearing. I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy (1).

2.  Because God inclines his ears towards his people.

God does not simply hear but he moves in our direction, he "inclines his ear."  One might hear many things and yet not really listen.  To incline one's ear is to listen intently.  The Psalmist loved the Lord "because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live" (2).  We would not be motivated to pray if God did not hear and incline his ear to us.  God does hear and God does listen.  Therefore we, like the Psalmist, should "...call on him as long as we live" (2).

3.  Because God acts on our behalf in grace, righteousness and mercy (3-9).

The writer of Psalm 116 had known great danger.  He was surrounded by "the snares of death."  He had "suffered distress and anguish."  His neediness had led him to call "on the name of the LORD..." The Lord saved him and "dealt bountifully" with him.  God "delivered" him from death.  He dried his tears, stabilized his walk, comforted him in his distress and helped him in all sorts of ways.

God was loved by the Psalmist because God had loved.  The Psalmist did not simply love God because God existed and was omnipotent.  He loved God because God heard him, moved in his direction and acted on his behalf.

If you are a Christian then you are loved by God.  You love God because he first loved you (I John 4:10).  His love was not in word only but in deed.  He loved and loves his people actively.

We can only love God because he is loving.  He hears, moves in our direction and deals bountifully with us.  If God had not displayed such love to us then we could not love him because we would not know what love is.  We would not be motivated to love an unloving God.

Yet God loved us when we were his enemies (Romans 5:8-10).  The supreme display of his love was that "...He sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him" (I John 4:10).

We can love the lesser (everyone that God created) because we have the love of the greater (God).  We are able to love our enemies because God has loved his enemies (including us).  God's love transforms us and works for us.  Therefore we can love, because of God's love.

So we could not love God if he had not loved us.  Yet love from others is not a requirement for us to love them.  There is a difference.  We can love fellow people who may not care about us though we could not love God had he not cared for us. We can only love others because God's love is the supreme love and was sent to us in Jesus Christ.  His love shows us, teaches us and enables us to love.

We are not required to love an unloving God. To love God we must not forget the many reasons that he has given us to love him. As we remember the loving actions of God toward us, we must remember that all of his benefits grow out of His supreme act of love, in sending His Son.

To love God we must have reason to love Him that is centered in his loving responses to us. To love others requires no such reason in them.  To love others requires that we are loved by God and therefore we love him in return.  Knowing the love of God we never have to fear loving others.