What does the Bible say about how to love God?

Jesus said that the greatest commandment was: "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30). In this passage, Jesus is quoting from the book of Deuteronomy, which was written by Moses (Deuteronomy 6:4–7). We show God love in many different ways, but overall our love for God overflows from how we position our hearts toward Him and how our actions follow His instructions.

One of the main ways we show God love is by spending time with Him. God wants to know us, and He wants us to know Him—as would be the case in any close human relationship, too (see 1 Corinthians 8:3). We see an example of this in the story of Mary and Martha, two sisters who hosted Jesus in their home. Martha was preoccupied by all of the serving she was doing for everyone else, and Mary sat by Jesus' feet to listen to His teaching (Luke 10:38–40). Jesus said, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41–42). We show God love by listening to Him and devoting time to be with Him.

We love God by engaging emotionally, sharing our deepest thoughts and feelings with Him—our fears, frustrations, joys, and triumphs (Psalm 62:8). We show God our love and trust in wanting to be known by Him. We tell Him our desire to be close to Him. Psalm 42:1 says, "As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God." This conveys a level of heightened need, or even desperation, for God. We love God by turning the position of our hearts toward Him and by engaging honestly with Him.

We show God love by reading His Word. In God's Word, we learn His instructions and we learn how to recognize His voice. In this way, we are both getting to know Him and being known by Him in light of the truth of His Word (Hebrews 4:12–13). Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and the psalmist devotes the chapter to praising God for His written Word. When we read the Word of God, we are expressing our love for Him and our desire to walk in His ways. Psalm 119:9–11 says: "How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." Second Timothy 3:16–17 says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."

We love God by keeping His commandments: "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3; see also John 14:15, 23; 2 John 1:6; Psalm 40:8). We love God by remaining obedient and steadfast to His commandments, even in times of persecution or personal trial. We see examples of this time and time again in the stories of Paul, Peter, and other early church apostles being imprisoned, tortured, or even killed for the sake of Christ. Most of us will never have to face physical threat or death for keeping the commandments of Christ, but living a life obedient to God does require the sacrifice of dying to ourselves and our own sinful desires so that we may live for Christ (Romans 12:1–2; Galatians 2:20; Titus 2:11–14).

We love God by loving others. In Mark 12:31, Jesus goes on to quote: "The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. This means we are to treat them as equals and even put their needs above our own (Philippians 2:1–11). James 2:8 says, "If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing well." Romans 13:8–10 says, "Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. … Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." As Christians, the way we love others is true evidence of our faith and it is part of how we share God with others: "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us" (1 John 4:11–12; cf. John 13:34–35).

Why do we love God? We love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). He sent Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and eternal redemption (John 3:16–18; Romans 5:8). We show God our love with our total devotion, recognizing Him as the creator and sustainer of all things, by trusting in Him for salvation, and by turning back toward Him, even after moments we have failed. "Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:25–26).

We love God by living lives dedicated to knowing Him, being known by Him, engaging our emotions and being honest with Him, reading His Word, living in obedience, and loving others as we love ourselves. We love God by loving Him with our whole selves.

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