I have trouble saying, “I love you, Lord.” Does is shock you for me to make such a statement? When I start to say, “I love…” my words can seem cheap, shallow, inadequate—even disrespectful. And I want to ask Him, “How do I love You Lord? What does it look like to love You?”
But isn't it love, when I stand with my arms in the air? Isn't it love, when I weep in His presence? Isn't it love, when I sing love songs to Him? Am I not showing my love for Him when my emotions are running high?
The answer is “No.” The emotions are for me, not for Him. And for me to think my red, swollen eyes are a sure indication of my love for God is simply deception.
Let me assure you that I am an emotional worshipper. So please don't think I'm being critical of more demonstrative worship. But worship is the position we assume, not the emotion we display. Worship is putting God in His proper place in our lives. We can worship with or without emotion.
It is my personal opinion that putting God in His proper place will, for any individual, generate a lot of wonderful emotional responses. But because every individual is different and every culture is different, our emotional responses during worship will be different—not right or wrong, just different. The intensity of emotion does not necessarily define the intensity of worship. I like emotion, but in the Word, worship is not defined by the absence or the presence of emotion.
I'm not trying to trash your emotional nature. I'm trying to give you a healthy perspective.
Emotions, like food, are essential to life. We know we need to eat to stay alive. In the same way, I don't think we could stay alive for very long without an emotional nature. If we were somehow kept from having any emotional responses to the events in our lives, I believe we would self‐destruct.
We also eat for the enjoyment—the table settings, the atmosphere of the restaurant or the home, the taste of the food, and the fellowship with others. In the same way, we also want to enjoy how we “feel” about the events in our lives. We try to do what feels good and avoid what doesn't.
But what happens to people who are ruled by food? What happens to those folks who lose their perspective on the importance of food? Instead of having bodies willing and able to go along with whatever they decide to do, they end up with bodies in rebellion—too tired or too sick to participate in life.
And if we allow ourselves to be ruled by our emotions, our emotions will begin to tell us what we can or can't do. Our emotions will begin to determine what has value and what doesn't.
I want to challenge you today, to just set aside all your “feelings” toward God and consider a different perspective.
How do we know that we even know Him—let alone love Him? If it's not by our emotions, is it because of a creed we have repeated all our lives? Is it because we were baptized or christened as children? Is it because we've always attended church? Is it because we live reasonably good lives?
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. (1 John 2:3‐5 NKJV)
If you are just now becoming interested in God your response might be: “Wow! That's going to be tough to do!” If you are a veteran in a church environment where the emphasis has been on good works, your response might be: “Wow! That's simply impossible!”
It's so easy to retreat at this point. What good reason is there to attempt the difficult or the impossible? It's much easier just to slip back into what is comfortable and familiar. And we become deceived, saying to ourselves: “The more emotional I am towards God, the more I love Him. The less emotional I am towards God, the less I love Him.”
What associations do you have with the words “keep His commandments?” Does your face light up; do you clap your hands and say, “Oh boy, I get to keep His commandments?” Hardly….
Any positive emotional response I have toward the words “keep His commandments” is something I've learned in spite of my environment—not because of it. Nothing in the natural world has anything good to say about keeping God's commandments. Let's take a look and see what the Word has to say about keeping God's commandments.
First of all, to “know that you know Him” is not just talking about knowing Him as your Savior. You can know Him as your Savior and hardly know Him at all. Two total strangers can declare each other to be best friends, but not know each other. A single guy can go on a drunken binge to Las Vegas and come home with a wife he barely knows. A man who said the “sinner's prayer” over forty years ago, can still barely know Jesus.
It's difficult to trust someone you don't know very well. It's difficult to accept direction from someone you don't know very well. The more you trust the more willing you are to be influenced.
It's hard to trust a God you barely know. Does He know what He's talking about? Will He do what He says? Will He come through in a pinch?
Memorization of Bible verses is not the same as knowing Him. Having a degree in theology is not the same as knowing Him. Knowing Him is a byproduct of keeping His commandments.
When we hear “keep His commandments” most of us think about being good little girls and boys… or else paying the price. We're thinking from the outside in—trying to control our behavior with our behavior. But to “keep” is to think from the inside out. To keep is to guard from loss or injury by keeping the eye upon. To keep implies watching over something already in your possession. To keep is to guard something already precious to you.
And what are we to keep? What should be so precious to us?
God's commandments are His precepts—prescribed rules in accordance with which a thing is done. To keep His commandments is to watch over His way of doing things, because His ways are precious to you.
Between now and tomorrow, I am asking you to make a quick list of Bible verses you would guard with your very life. As you look over your list, think what it would be like if you had the same protective instinct over everything God says.
Have a good day,