WORD OF GOD:
HOW AM I TO LOVE GOD BY LOVING IT?
from Daniel Hyde
Love is a complex thing.
Contrary to popular notions, love is not a feeling or an emotion
that you can fall into and then fall out of. Love is complex,
meaning that love involves many things. Classically speaking,
our human faculties are made up of the mind, the will, and the
affections. Using these, then, love is rooted in knowledge; love
is exercised in willful decision; and love is experienced in the
affections. To love someone involves all of this. To love someone
means that you also love the things about someone. This is most
true of our love for God. We love Him, and that leads us to love
everything about Him. One of those things is His Word. To love
God is to love his Word. As Psalm 119 says, "Oh how I love
your law!" (v. 97).
Because the Word is the means that God uses to speak to us, we
need to love it and use it. Let me meditate with you on how.
By My Duty to Read It
I am to love God by loving His Word. Therefore, it is my duty
to read it. Just as we give presents because we love someone,
and they open it in reciprocal love and gratitude, so too has
God shown His love for His people by giving us the gift of His
Word. As the psalmist said, "He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and rules to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any
other nation; they do not know his rules" (Ps. 147:19-20).
Show him you love him by reading his Word. Scripture explains
that we do this in three ways.
We love God by loving His Word read publicly. This was done in
the ancient Jewish synagogue, as evidenced by Jesus' entering
the synagogue and performing the appointed reading from the prophet
Isaiah (Luke 4:16-24). This was done in the ancient Christian
church, as evidenced by Paul's words (1 Thess. 5:27; Col. 4:16).
This continued in the ancient church. For example, Justin Martyr
said, "And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities
or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs
of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long
as time permits" (First Apology, ch. 67). And Tertullian
said, "We assemble to read our sacred writings
the sacred words we nourish our faith, we animate our hope, we
make our confidence more steadfast" (Apology, ch. 39).
As a Family
We love God by loving His Word read as a family, if the Lord provides
us with a family. Moses exhorted Israel, saying, "And these
words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall
teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them
when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and
when you lie down, and when you rise" (Deut. 6:6-7). This
practice of the covenant people was experienced by Timothy: "But
as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly
believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood
you have been acquainted with the sacred writings" (2 Tim.
3:14-15). Family Bible reading is necessary to propagate the Christian
religion in our children. Studies show the rising generation in
American churches leaving those churches; is it any wonder when
parents, especially fathers, are not taking the time to read the
Word with their children? Ignorance of Scripture leads to ignorance
We love God by loving His Word read privately. Psalm 1 speaks
of the singular "man" (v. 1) who is blessed because
"his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he
meditates day and night" (v. 2). To read the Word and meditate
upon the Word as a believer causes one to be like a well-watered
and fruitful tree (v. 3). Psalm 119 is also the meditation of
an individual believer: "Oh how I love your law! It is my
meditation all the day" (v. 97, emphasis mine). Meditating
on the Word makes one wise (v. 98), makes one godly (v. 101),
and gives us a spiritual delight as the Word is "sweeter
than honey to my mouth!" (v. 103). This is why one writer
said, "To neglect [the reading of the Word] is to despise
our own souls, and deprive ourselves of the advantage of God's
instituted means of grace." If you love God, it is your duty
to read the Word of God.
By My Delight to Receive It
I am to love God by loving His Word. Therefore, it is my delight
to receive it. Again, think about receiving a present. The word
present is just another way of saying "gift." And what
does the word gift mean? It means an act of grace-that a person
gives you something not because you deserve it, but because they
decided to express their love.
Ten times in the great Psalm 119 we read of the psalmist praising
the Lord for receiving the Lord's Word, saying he "delights"
in the Word (Ps. 119:14, 16, 24, 35, 47, 70, 77, 92, 143, 174).
Why? Because the Word is the living Word of the Lord to us, His
people. The psalmist also describes his delight in the Word in
comparison to other delightful things. He compares the Word to
gold and silver, saying in verse 72, "The law of your mouth
is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces"
(cf. v. 127). He compares the Word to honey, saying in verse 103,
"How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey
to my mouth!" Elsewhere in Scripture, we read of the Word
being compared to other things such as these. The Word is compared
to a sword that defends against spiritual enemies (Eph. 6:17).
The Word is compared to a lamp that guides us (Ps. 119:105). The
Word is compared to milk that nourishes our souls (1 Peter 2:2).
If you love God, it is your duty to read the Word and your delight
to receive it as the very Word of the true and living God.