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How a Pastor Should Love God

David and Asaph teach us by their own God-centered longings that God’s gifts of health, wealth and prosperity do not satisfy. Only God does. It would be presumptuous not to thank him for his gifts (“Forget not all his benefits,” Psalm 103:2); but it would be idolatry to call the gladness we get from them, love for God. When David said to the Lord: “In your presence there is fullness of joy, in your right hand are pleasures for evermore,” (Psalm 16:11), he meant that nearness to God himself is the only all-satisfying experience of the universe.

It is not for God’s gifts that David yearns like a heartsick lover. “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for you, O God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2). What David wants to experience is a revelation of the power and the glory of God: “O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where no water is. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory” (Psalm 63:1-2). Only God will satisfy a heart like David’s. And David was a man after God’s own heart. That’s the way we were created to be.

This is the essence of what it means to love God—to be satisfied in him. In him! Loving God will include obeying all his commands; it will include believing all his word; it will include thanking him for all his gifts; but the essence of loving God is enjoying all he is. And it is this enjoyment of God that glorifies his worth most fully.

We all know this intuitively as well as from Scripture. Do we feel most honored by the love of those who serve us from the constraints of duty, or from the delights of fellowship? My wife is most honored when I say, “It makes me happy to spend time with you.” My happiness is the echo of her excellence. And so it is with God. He is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

None of us has arrived at perfect satisfaction in God. I grieve often over the murmuring of my heart at the loss of worldly comforts. But I have tasted that the Lord is good. By God’s grace I now know the fountain of everlasting joy. And so I love to spend my days luring people into joy until they say with me, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).  

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John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. John is the author of more than 30 books and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at DesiringGod.org. © Desiring God.