Honorable Christian Manhood (part 11)
An honorable Christian man cultivates healthy loves. The kind of love that the Bible advocates is, at its root, a volitional kind of love. By this I mean that we are called upon to choose to love certain things, and by necessity, choose not to love other things. Biblical love also calls upon us to love the right things in the right way and in the right order.
When Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest in all the Scriptures, He responded by quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4-5, a passage that not many would have guessed as His answer, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."
Israel was not only commanded to love God, but to love him supremely, and New Testament believers are to learn from Jesus that this is still binding for us as well. To love God with all of our heart, soul, and might speaks of an all-encompassing love that flows from the knowledge and belief that Jehovah God is the one true and living God. Because there is only one God, I must love Him in a unique way.
Our Love for God must be Monotheistic
It should go without saying that a Christian should be a monotheist. However, it should have been obvious that the nation of Israel were monotheists, also. This Deuteronomy passage specifically declares the utter uniqueness of Jehovah God. There is only one God in this universe, though there are other deities which have been conjured up in the minds of men.
One major problem of men, including Christian men, is that we claim to be monotheists, but we are often practicing polytheists. God becomes one of many idols in our lives. And when something or someone contradicts or is in competition with our love for God, sadly, often God is not the one who comes out on top.
To love God rightly means that we possess and practice an exclusive love for him, and place him as the top priority in all of our decisions, responses, practices, thoughts, words, and actions. We are to be thorough monotheists in our love for God. There are no other gods before him, next to him, or superior to him. God is supreme, and must be loved supremely.
Our Love for God must be Distinguishable
We use the word "love" in a variety of contexts. We say we love our pets, our favorite sports team, a food item, and our spouse. But we ought not love all of those things in the same way. If we love our wives like we love a good burger, then we do not understand biblical love.
If we love God like we love our dog, then something is wrong as well. Biblical love distinguishes levels of love, and commitments to various things. We should be committed to our wives. We love them. But there should be a higher level of love, an even stronger commitment to God. This does not mean that we love our wives in a deficient way; it merely means that we are distinguishing a higher love that we ought to have for God.
Our Love for God must be Wholehearted
Deuteronomy describes this wholehearted love. Our love for God should not only be relegated to a part of our lives, nor to just a part of our weeks. Our love for God should consume every aspect and nuance of our being, and control all that do and say.
Our Love for God must be Responsive
This kind of love is not demanded of us or expected of us by a mean ogre of a God. God has demonstrated a volitional and incredible love for us, and has perfectly demonstrated that through the gift of salvation through the sacrificial death of his Son on the cross of Calvary. Jesus died for us, and rose from the dead for us. Our love for God responds to this love in a humble and grateful way.
Our Love for God must be Active
This kind of love for God demands action. If we merely say the words "I love you" but never display it in our actions, then our words are empty. Jesus said "if you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Loving God naturally leads to activity for God.
Our love for God is volitional. We must choose to love God in these ways. Other things will compete for our love. But an honorable Christian man seeks to cultivate a love for God that is singular in focus, distinct from other things and people, wholehearted, based on God's love for us, and active in nature. May we as men strive to cultivate this kind of love daily for the glory of God.