The other day I was thinking about the well-known verse, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
I have quoted this verse so many times that it literally flows off my tongue effortlessly; my guess is that is the same for every follower of Christ. But this week as I was meditating on this verse, I was convicted and I began to ask myself, “Have I become so familiar with the truth of Scripture that I have lost the awe and wonder that once accompanied my devotional time?” The saying is true, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Sometimes I feel like even though I love God, I’m not sure if I am loving Him with the right attitude. The question that I was wrestling with was, “Am I loving God with an attitude of ‘I have to’, or am I loving Him with an attitude of ‘I get to’?”
How do we take our love of God from “I have to” to “I get to”? It starts with allowing the love of God to convict us.
“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” —Romans 5:8
Even though I don’t deserve it, God sent His Son to die for my sins. This truth convicts me. Why would God do this? Especially since He knows my wicked and evil thoughts. This conviction does not get me from an attitude of ‘I have to,’ but it does make me want to love Him more. Once the love of God convicts us, we must confess our sins to God so that the love of God can cover and cleanse us.
“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” —1 John 1:7-9
Again, because God so loved me that He gave His Son on my behalf, I really want to love Him with an attitude of “I get to.” But being cleansed doesn’t move me from “have to” to “get to.” This is where meditating on the Word of God daily helps me become consumed by the love of God.
“Our God is a consuming fire.” —Hebrews 12:29
As I abide in the Word of God, I can become so consumed with the love of God that I begin to move from “I have to love Him because of what He did,” to “Wow, I get to love the One that loved me first and has taught me how to love!” Once this transition begins to take place in my mind and my heart, then I can become compelled with the love of God. In 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 Paul tells us that once the love of God compels us it will convince us to “No longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died for us.” Why? Because we are so in awe with the love that God showed us by giving us His Son that we can’t help but give our lives for something that is so much greater than ourselves.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” —2 Corinthians 5:14-15
My prayer is that you will not become so familiar with the love of God that you lose the awe for the One who gave His all for you. I pray that in 2016, you don’t simply go through the motions of the spiritual disciplines because you have to, but you comb the Scriptures, looking for treasure because you get to love the One who loves you infinitely.
May God continue to pour out His great love into our hearts so that we are compelled to live for Him and not for ourselves.
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