Stop Trying To Love God

Stop Trying To Love God!

We are all the same

No matter where I go in the world I find a common truth amongst Christians.

We are all fixated on how much we love God. We spend all our time trying and trying to love him more.

Yet, there’s always a nagging question the back of our mind’s, “do I love Him enough?”

You see, most Christians get things upside down. We think that we are here to love God, but that’s not entirely true.

You aren’t here to love God

God did not create us so that we could love Him, God created us so that we could receive His love.

Now don’t get me wrong, you will love God and God desires that you would love him in response to His love. But your primary purpose on this planet is to receive your Father’s lavish unconditional love.

Not realising this has caused us to focus on ourselves rather than God.

I would hope that by this point in your Christian walk, you have figured out this is a bad idea. Any gospel that takes the focus off of Christ and puts it onto us is no gospel at all!

God has never needed your love. Whereas there has never been a second where you have not needed His.

You see, if you’re asking yourself the question, “do I love Him enough?” You are asking the wrong question.

The question should not be do I love Him enough, but rather, am I receiving His love enough. How open are you to receiving His love for you?

So what’s the solution?

1 John 4v19 says that we can only love because God first loved us.

The truth is, if you do not know that God loves you, you will never be able to love Him in return. The degree to which you have received His love is the degree to which you can give Him love.

The desire to love God is a great one, it’s a healthy desire. But it cannot be the source of our love for God.

When our love for God is based in our attempts to love Him it will always come up short. It must be based in His love for us.

Let me challenge you.

If you are stuck in introspection, focusing on your ability to love God and you feel burdened because you know that you can’t love Him enough.

Let go.

Rest in the knowledge that you were never made to love God in your own strength. He has always hoped that your love for Him would be an over flowing response to His love for you.

If you are desperate to grow in your love for God today there is one sure-fire way to do so. Stop trying and just let Him love you. Focus on how much he loves you and watch an abundance of love come overflowing out of your heart towards Him today.

If you’d like to study this some more I’d encourage you to check out my podcast – Episode #004 is all about this topic.

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12 Comments

  1. Please remove the advertising on the left side of the screen.
    It obscures the beginning of every line and sentence.
    Thank you.

  2. Dear Phil: I think many if not most Christians want God to show that He loves them more rather than the reverse. Many prayers are for self: cure to an illness, financial resolve, more possessions, less suffering. They are one-sided prayers of I want, I need. What God commands is obedience to loving Him with all our heart, soul, body and mind and loving our neighbor as our self. This love is an outward action towards other in which we become the vessel of love distribution. In this way we are ambassadors spreading the Word of the Gospel message, making disciples as we are commanded. Our reward is the inheritance promised.

    • Sharon, I think you and Phil are actually in agreement. Let me see if I can more clearly articulate what I think Phil was trying to say.

      Scripture tells us (as Phil pointed out) that us loving God is a byproduct, a response, a motivation stirred by God’s initial love. So sure, if by definition a “Christian” is a person has been stirred to follow Christ by his love, then you would expect a Christian to have a general inherent desire to respond by loving God in return. But that desire is secondary. It’s a desire produced by God’s love.

      But what Phil means to do is answer the question: “why am I, a Christian, struggling to love God?”. The answer to this question isn’t simply to “try harder to love God”. If God’s love is what produces love in us (“We love because he first loved us”. 1 John 4:19), the root of the problem lies in our lack of awareness and forgetfulness, not in our lack of works. Continuous, daily refreshment ourselves with the truth of the Gospel is what produces obedience and love for God. You’ll notice in Paul’s epistles that he never just kicks off by telling people what they need to do better. He always, ALWAYS reminds them of what the truth of the Gospel means about who they are in Christ (and he usually does it as a preface to any rebuking or correction). He isn’t just doing this to be gentle and easy on his audience. It’s an intentionally done in faith that the Gospel is what produces chance, not informing people what needs to be done better.

      So truly, when believers struggle to love God, it’s not because they aren’t trying hard enough, it’s typically because we (as humans) are quick to forget the way God loves us. The solution is to constantly revisit that truth. Anything else is just behavioral modification–putting a bandaid on the deeper issue.

      This also isn’t to say, “I need God to make me better before I do anything”. Phil wasn’t trying to communicate that we should focus more on ourselves than God or others. He is saying, however, that it impossible to genuinely love the way we’re called to love if we are not regularly in communion with God and reflecting on His love for us.

      Another thing to keep in mind is that we’re called to sonship and daughterhood before we are called to ministry, to loving others, and even to “show our love for God”. This is outlined in Revelation 2, where Jesus communicates to the church in Ephesus:

      “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” (Rev. 2:2-5)

      Jesus makes it clear that it is a priority to seek and remember our First Love before and above anything else, even despite the evident successes of the church in Ephesus. He doesn’t tell them what they need to do better. He just wants them to better know His love for them. Isn’t that amazing??

      So, I personally think that “Stop Trying to Love God!” is meant to say that we can only genuinely grow a love for God (and others) by allowing Him to love us. Love and obedience should be an overflow of a greater Love that we receive from God. When we aren’t loving and obeying well, it’s because we aren’t revisiting the truth of God’s love for us.

      Cheers,
      – Tim

    • Thanks for sharing Sharon – I’d recommend you read Tim’s post – I don’t think we are in contradiction but perhaps you have read my article from a different perspective to which I wrote it.

  3. Wow, to both the article by you Phil and to Tim for his comment. I really needed this today. Thank you for taking the time to write all these thoughts out. They are life to me. Bless you all!

    • So blessed to hear that Crissy! Thank you for taking the time to encourage me and let me know that you enjoy them! Glad it spoke to where you were today.

  4. Phil, thank you so much for these wonderful words about our love in Jesus. You had a video with this word on it about stop trying to love God. I showed it at our Bible study and everyone loved it. It really opened a lot of eyes about God’s love in us and how it’s not a law but a gift to live with his love. I can’t find that video anywhere online or on your site. I knew remember that there was a baby crying during one part of it, but it didn’t stop how good that video was, and I really like to have that to share with others too. My friend shared it with her own Bible study and so many of her friends were set free from the lie of love as being a law we had to try to follow instead of his love being with an S and flowing as we abide in Jesus. I think it was a different presentation on the same Word about God’s love. Do you still have that video available anywhere. I think it was called “let God love you.” If so would you please send me the link for it. I would so appreciate it.

    I shared your podcast on this Love of God word with my brother-in-law a couple days ago. I got back an email from him yesterday, thanking me for it and saying he has been finding himself singing that song “oh how he loves you and me.” The heart of that song is really this message you share here so wonderfully. It is a wonderful thing that my brother-in-law has loved this word by you so much. My sisters been having a lot of problems in their relationship because he is so mean to people when they go to public places even though he shares the gospel in prisons and other public places. He just is not good in personal relationships. It has a lot to do with his background, but I believe God is giving him a huge gift through your words here about love, so it is a great next step for him spiritually, his starting to learn about how to rest in Jesus for that love that people are beginning to tell him he is lacking in. He just needs to see more of God’s love and I know His love will flow through him more more and more fully day by day. I can’t wait to share with my sister what he said about your podcast. It’s going to really encourage her. You also were a huge help in their marriage another time recently,when you recommended that book about how our judgments about others motivations make us suffer way more than we have to. my sister had just decided she was going to have to divorce him because she could not live with him, he does such weird and hurtful things to her all the time. Then I sent her A copy of that book you recommended. She said it has saved their marriage, as she’s now able to endure more the experience of living with him, having let go of thinking she knows why he does those hurtful things. It really did greatly reduce her pain to a great extent as the author says.

    You’re such a blessing through all the ways you share Jesus as our new life. I am sorry to hear about the hard things you’ve been going through your own situation there. But I know that Are Jesus is going to turn it all for good for you. That is just the way that he loves us, taking all the bread that we throw upon the waters, as he promises, causing them to come back quadrupled and more, to us just because he is love and a generosity beyond abundance to us too, as he lives through us. Thank you again so much for everything, love in Christ, Lynn

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