I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart.
WHY DO WE LOVE GOD? Is it because His attributes so often result in benefit to us personally or because He is simply worthy to be loved? Do we love God for His sake or for our own?
An utterly honest appraisal of our hearts will often reveal that our seeking of God has been more a seeking of certain blessings from God rather than a seeking of God Himself. Very few of us are not indicted by these words from Thomas Merton: “They respect God as a Master. But their heart does not belong to Him. They are not really interested in Him, except in order to insure themselves against losing heaven and going to hell. In actual practice, their minds and hearts are taken up with their own ambitions and troubles and comforts and pleasures and all their worldly interests and anxieties and fears. God is only invited to enter this charmed circle to smooth out difficulties and to dispense rewards.”
But a “true love of God must begin with a delight in his holiness” (Jonathan Edwards). Our devotion to God must be akin to Job’s. Although Satan sneered, “Does Job fear God for nothing?” (Job 1:9), the truth was that Job’s faithfulness reached far beyond the benefits he had been receiving from God. When every other reason was stripped away, Job did what was right simply because it was right. He loved God because God deserves to be loved.
It may help to try to look at love from God’s side. Can we imagine our plight if, in deciding whether to love us, God had ever asked the question, “What’s in it for Me?” If any part of His love depended on our ability to “help Him solve His problems,” there would be no love. Apparently, He loves us because we are His creatures, simply for our own sake. And we are to love Him because He is our Creator, simply for His own sake. Love’s joy has to do with giving, not getting. The moment our main focus shifts from the Beloved to ourselves, true joy begins to disappear. “Give me, good Lord, a longing to be with you, not to avoid the calamities of this world, nor so much to attain the joys of heaven, as simply for love of you” (Thomas More).
“Love for God springs from His own excellence rather than from our need of Him” (James M. Houston).