I love Jesus, and so do you. But don’t you want to love Jesus more?
What kind of a question is that? No, Mark, I love Jesus but want to love him less. And I want less joy in my life. And while we’re at it I’d like fewer blessings.
Often, my love for Jesus feels even weaker than my love for opera (no offense opera lovers). I’m sure it’s my ignorance and lack of ability to appreciate the glories of people dressing up like Vikings and singing in Italian.
Wait a minute! I’m just kidding. Don’t fill up the comments section with rebukes. I know opera isn’t really about people dressing up like Vikings and singing in Italian. Opera is about pinball wizards, like in “Tommy” by The Who.
The Critical Importance of Loving Jesus
Ever try to light a match on a windy day? Even though I love Jesus, sometimes my love for Jesus feels about as strong as a match flame in a hurricane. I’m not happy about my weak love for Jesus. I take seriously Jesus’ warning to the church of Laodicea about being lukewarm.
“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:14-19)
These words to the church of Laodicea are sobering. We in America live in a prosperous nation. Compared to much of the world, we have prospered materially. But we never want to forget how needy we are spiritually.
We always need the Lord to fill us with love for him and to keep us from the love of the world. We need Jesus to continually fill us with passion for him and his kingdom.
Jesus said in Luke 10:27:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
I don’t know about you, but I desperately need God’s help to love him in this way. Because I am so easily distracted, I’m so easily drawn to love other things. There are many times when I love Jesus, but not to the degree I desire.
I want to love the Lord my God with ALL my heart and soul and strength and mind, but I need him to help me.
And the good news is, Jesus does not command his people to do anything that he will not give them the grace to do if they ask him.
So ask Jesus to give you more love for him. Ask Jesus to help you delight in him and enjoy him and make him your treasure above all other things.
And do not let the weakness of your love for Jesus cause you to despair. For any genuine love for Jesus, even if it’s as small as a mustard seed, is proof that one is born again. Unbelievers don’t love Jesus and don’t care that they don’t love Jesus. Only genuine believers love Jesus and desire to love Jesus more.
Your Desire Pleases God
What wife wouldn’t be blessed if her husband said, “Honey, I’m not content with how much I love you. I love you, but I want to love you so much more.”
The desire to love Jesus more says we recognize he is worthy of our all. That his infinite glory demands infinite love, praise and worship. That our love for him doesn’t match his worthiness to be loved.
A toddler can’t possibly love her mother the way she should or appreciate all the ways her mother loves her and cares for her. Yet when that child says, “Mommy I love you,” that child’s imperfect love brings joy to her mom.
So it is with us. When we come to our heavenly Father and tell him we love him, even though we can’t ever fathom his infinitely glory and beauty and majesty, it brings him joy.
Most of us know we’re pretty poor servants of Jesus. We’re just earthen vessels that easily break. We often muddle and stumble along as best we can, like little kids who make a bigger mess trying to help than if the parents had just done it themselves. (How many times has Jesus had to clean up after me). Yet somehow even our feeble, flawed love for him brings a smile to his face.
I’m so grateful Christ bled on the cross for all the imperfections of my bungling love and halting, feeble affection. And grateful that even my match-flame of desire delights him, because he’s the one who lit that fire in my heart, no matter how small it seems.
If I Love Jesus and Want to Love Him More…It Changes My Focus
Instead of focusing on my lack of love for Jesus, I focus on his love for me.
We love because he first loved us. 1 JN 4.19
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are… 1 JN 3.1
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. RO 5.8
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. RO 8.37-39
The best way to start your day is to call to mind his love for you:
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. LA 3:21-23
So let us focus on God’s incredible love for us, and ask him to keep fanning the flame of our love for him. Here is my hope. I don’t love Jesus as much as I should, but I will. Increasingly. For all eternity.
Remember the Depth of Your Forgiveness
In Luke 7 a woman of ill repute shows up at a meal Jesus is attending in a Pharisee?s home. She breaks open a flask of expensive ointment, then, weeping over Jesus’ feet, wipes them with her hair and anoints them with the oil.
The Pharisee, named Simon, most likely disgusted that Jesus would let this unclean woman touch him, thinks if Jesus were a prophet he’d know the kind of woman this is and have nothing to do with her. Jesus tells him:
A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more, Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” (41-43)
Then after mentioning Simon’s lack of courtesies—he didn’t wash Jesus’ feet, welcome him with a kiss or anoint his head with oil—he pointed out how the woman washed his feet with her tears, kissed his feet and anointed them with oil. Then he delivers the punch line:
“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little. (47)
Before he saved me, Jesus let me sink into a self-made miry pit of sin, selfishness and misery. I couldn’t get out and couldn’t stop sinning. God is sovereign. He could have kept me from sinning. But he allows us to plunge deeply into sin. One of the reasons is so that when he does rescue us, we’re far more amazed and grateful than if we’d never sinned.
The same thing happens even after God saves us. He could keep us from ever sinning again. He could deliver us instantaneously from all pride and anger and self-centeredness. But he allows us to fall and struggle at times so we’ll have a fresh appreciation of his grace, forgiveness and love. And as a result, we will love him all the more.
John Newton said:
Have you blown it repeatedly? Messed up so many times you can’t recall? If you haven’t turned to Jesus yet, do so today! He paid for every one of your sins on the cross and freely forgives all who call upon him in faith to save them. He’ll cleanse you of your every sin, and in turn you’ll love him much.
Maybe you’ve believed for years, yet you’re discouraged in your struggle with sin. Remember, Jesus paid for all your sins long before he saved you. Ask him for forgiveness and he’ll forgive you and cleanse you of all unrighteousness. Not because you deserve it, but because he loves you. And you too will love much because you’ve been forgiven much.
I don’t advocate continual, morose, Eeyore-like dwelling upon our sins. But I DO advocate contemplating how much Jesus has forgiven us, because the more we realize the height and width and breadth and depth of Jesus’ forgiveness, the more we will love him.
The secret to loving God much: Contemplate the immeasurable debt Jesus paid for you and how vast is his mercy and grace to you.