4 Steps to Loving God More and Feeling His Love
You Really Can Do Both
Both Moses and Jesus, along with the Apostles taught that loving God with all our heart and with all our soul is the greatest commandment. Right after it, commandment 1a so to speak is to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Deuteronomy 11:13, Matthew 22:38–40)
How awesome is that! Out of all the things God most desires from us, is that we love. That tells us an awful lot about Him!
God Wants Our Whole Heart
Loving a God we cannot see presents some challenges, but loving God with ALL we are, that’s a really big one. I’ve been a believer in Jesus for over 40 years and I know I don’t always love God with all I am.
Yes, I love God. I want to know Him better and better. I really do prioritize Him in my life. But there are a couple of reasons I don’t always love Him with ALL I am yet.
First of all, I still have to deal with the sin nature. There are times I don’t feel much if any love for God. Sometimes I don’t talk like or act like I love Him. Galatians 5:20–21 tells us what we have all experienced, the flesh (sin-nature) and the Holy Spirit within us are in conflict with one another.
Though we have the same Holy Spirit in us that raised Jesus from the dead, we also still live in these sin-infected bodies and souls that are being healed, liberated, and renewed. That means we sometimes give in to the old nature, and don’t respond in love to God.
We may lose some battles but we definitely do not need to lose the war.
Secondly, though our Spirit is made brand new at conversion, our thinking, feelings, and willpower are a work in progress. This work in progress will continue as long as we are still in this present age. We will not be perfected in any aspect of our lives until Jesus returns and we get glorified bodies.
That means, in this age, I will never be perfect in loving God with all I am.
When bad things happen and we don’t understand why, our feelings may not feel a whole lot of love for God right then. Over time, as we learn to trust God even in the darkness, we can still sense His love, trust Him anyway, and love Him back. But in our immaturity, not lack of desire for Him, we may block or question His love.
We can grow out of that.
The Hopelessness and Guilt Trap
I don’t perfectly love God or show that I love Him by following His commandments failure free. That immediately presents an opportunity for both my own conscience and the Enemy to hassle me with thoughts and feelings of guilt and hope destroying condemnation.
Both my “being renewed” conscience and the devil ALWAYS have ammunition to shoot at me because I am not yet perfected in love, I am still growing. I am still in the process of being renewed, being shaped, and formed, and filled more and more with the life and love of Jesus.
Growth means I have not reached completion or perfection. A young tree will not have the same strength and fruitfulness of a mature tree; but it is right for its stage of growth. It’s still lacking compared to the completed growth of the mature tree, it doesn’t yet have the capacity to bear fruit but it’s not because it’s sick, it’s because it is still not fully grown..
On the One Hand I Know This…
and most of the time can shrug off the condemnation. But if I’ve had a particularly “ugly” day in which I didn’t act much like Jesus or feel much love for God or people, if I’m not careful, I can still find myself feeling like there is no hope for me or thinking” I’m such a hypocrite. How can I say I love God, or that I’m a real Jesus follower when I feel and act like that?” (Insert any area of your life where you still struggle).
But the Bible tells us clearly that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It tells us that God is not condemning us, He is the One who died for us and is interceding for us. (Romans 8:1, 8:30–37)
It does not say there is no condemnation for those who love and obey God perfectly. It does not say if you struggle with sin that you do not love God.
Instead it says that what we could not do because of the weakness of our flesh, our willpower, the sin pockets in our souls, God did what we could not do. He saved us by His own power, His grace, His sacrifice and resurrection. (Romans 8:2–5)
So, how do we keep loving God more without feeling condemned? Here are a few suggestions that help me a lot and I think they will help you too:
1. Stay Planted in the Cross and Grace Zone of Jesus: don’t budge.
In my years of working with people, I’ve seen that mainly sincere, devout Christians have to battle guilt and condemnation. The lukewarm rarely have those feelings.
Because the sincere want to love God and feel His love as a priority…as THE PRIORITY. Since that is a powerful motivation, the sincere believer can more easily see their short-comings. The lukewarm people don’t really care, so it’s not much of an issue for them. It doesn’t matter to them if they are loving and pleasing God; they just want to know they prayed the sinner’s prayer, so they have eternal life.
The answer to condemnation is JUSTIFICATION, NOT SANCTIFICATION. Being justified is a gift from God, sanctification is a process God works out in us to make us more like Jesus.
As I said, there will always be some area of our lives that is not yet perfect, some area of our life where we are not loving God with ALL.
That is knowing we are justified is the answer to condemnation. It is why we must do what it takes to stay in the Cross and Grace Zone that Jesus gives. We must regularly look again at the cross and receive the reality that Jesus died for my sins, was raised from the dead, and ascended into heaven for ME.
I am forgiven, cleansed, made new, and welcomed in God’s family ONLY as a gift received by faith; not my goodness.
As soon as I start wondering if I’m good enough or too bad to come to God with confidence, then I know I’m slipping back into “works mentality” or “how good or bad I am” as the basis for a relationship with God.
From God’s perspective, that has been settled. In my own efforts, I am a sinner, deserving of hell. But because my faith is in Jesus, I step into His righteousness and His standing with God, with full acceptance, love, and joy.
When I focus on that reality, how God has fully paid for my thousands of sins and has gifted me eternal, abundant life, then love for God rises in my heart. And I start to feel His love more as well.
2. Meditate on the Love of God for You.
1 John 4:19 says that we love because He FIRST loved us.
The sin nature runs from God, accuses God, and never wants to please Him. That is us, before the Holy Spirit started working in us.
But, Jesus died for us when we were spiritual “enemies”, when we were living in rebellion, unbelief, and all types of sin. (Romans 5:6–10) But while we were in that state, God loved us so much that He paid the price for our sins, He died in our place.
Now, we all know that. But meditating on that reality and the other aspects of His love, helps build truth in our souls. It tears down those vestiges of left-over deception strongholds in our minds and hearts.
Then when we read all those hundreds of promises God has given us, all the blessings He wants us to have, it fills us even more with the right picture of His nature. What God has freely given is so extravagant, so saturated with Holy love, it makes it much easier to love Him.
The more we realize how much God loves us, the easier it is to love Him back.
We grow in love for God as we get deeper and deeper revelation of His love for us.
3. Verbally thank God for His love, grace, and promises.
One of the greatest faith builders and feeling releasers is to verbally thank God for His love, His blessings, His grace, and His promises.
There are all kinds of studies that show writing down specific things we are grateful for increases our level of happiness. That is how God made us.
But giving thanks to the One who gave us the things we’re thankful for, not just a generic practice of gratitude, unleashes far greater joy power in our souls.
We’re not just grateful or thankful for all our blessings, we are grateful and thankful to the One who gave them to us.
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:17–18) is a great life motto.
Ongoing rejoicing, prayer, and giving thanks to God is how God designed us to live. It is His will, which means it is for our good.
God’s love and His joy go hand in hand. Verbally giving thanks to God for His love and blessings often ignites the fire of godly feelings in our souls. We FEEL more of His love and life.
4. Take steps to love people.
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:11–12)
I can’t tell you how many times when I didn’t feel much of God’s presence in my devotional time, when I go and help others or share His gospel with others, how I start feeling God’s presence and love in a stronger way.
Loving God and loving people go hand in hand. Though we can’t love people with the love of Jesus without connecting with Jesus, we cannot truly love God if we’re not also loving people.
Want to feel God’s love more? Share some aspect of His life, truth, love with others. That often ignites the fire of His love in your soul from a small flame to a strong fire.
Are there other ways to experience God’s love and to love Him more? Sure there are. But these are 4 steps you can take today and moving forward.