Loving God

The first commandment is the key to understanding everything. It reads: “You shall have no other gods before me.”1 It sounds simple to us: Love God. Okay. We got it. No problem. And that’s the problem. 🙁 We probably break this commandment every day of our lives! 😯 And here’s how.

     St. Augustine said, “The essence of sin is disordered love.”* In other words, we sin when our loves are out of order. Our commandment is to love God first—“no other gods before me.” There should be nothing more important in our lives than loving God. But what does that look like? How do we love God? Jesus told us. (Of course, he did!) 🙄 One time “a lawyer asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”2 Okay. Got it . . . 🤔 but what does that look like?

     I think it boils down to this: “We love because he first loved us.”3 We only know how to love God when we realize how much God loves us. Love for him is not something we conjure up! It is a response to his great love. The more we know God, the more we love God. If we do not love God, we do not know him because “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”4 If our love for God consists of going to church, reading the Bible occasionally,  and asking God to bless our food, our knowledge of him is very small, and our love for him will be very small, which means we love other things more than we love God, which means we are breaking the first commandment. And we have proven St. Augustine’s theory: “The essence of sin is disordered love.”

     However. The question to ask ourselves is really not how much do we love God but how much do we know him? Which is why Paul prayed this: “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the fullness of God.”5

     Loving God is not a task. It is not something we should do. Loving God is being filled up with him, feeling in our heart the height of his love, sensing in our soul the depth of his love, and understanding in our mind the breadth and length of his love. Loving God is realizing that there is nothing greater than the love of God.

     Instead of asking folks if they believe in God, we really should be asking if they know God, or maybe even if they love God. That question would make many pause . . . and probably squirm a bit. And after a minute or two, perhaps we should add the questions, What do you know about God and what do you love about God? And then ask ourselves the same thing! 😐 If we do not love God, we really do not know him, because “God is love!” And if we struggle to understand just how much we do love God, then perhaps we love something/someone else greater than him, and we are breaking the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me.” Breaking the first commandment does not make us feel guilty, it just makes us feel empty. Because our loves are out of order.

     The ten commandments are meant to be a guide for living life the way it was meant to be lived. If we don’t love God more than everything else, following the other nine will be ineffectual. 😦

1Exodus 20:3   2Matthew 22:35-37   31 John 4:19   41 John 4:16   5Ephesians 3:17-19   *Augustine & Disordered Loves – Theology for the People (

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