One of the main themes in the Bible is Love. The two greatest commandments, and often the hardest, are about love. We are to love God and to love others (Luke 10:27), so it is not surprising that the word “love” is found 449 times in the Old Testament and 235 times in the New Testament (ESV Bible).
The word Love in English is defined as “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.” In Hebrew, the word for Love is ahab and is defined as “the act of being a friend” or “having affection for.” But is love just a feeling… or is there more to it?
A quick internet search confirms my thought. Love is more than just a feeling. Love is an action. My favorite quote on this subject from PsychCentral, says “Love is an action word; that means that we’d better walk the walk in addition to talking the talk!” Psychology Today says, “Love is an action verb. It requires sweat equity. There is no such thing as passive love.” I think most of us would agree with these statements. Just think about your personal relationships. If somebody says they love you, but doesn’t show you love through their actions, do you feel loved? Probably not. Feelings of love compel us to action towards another person.
If you are reading this blog, you are more than likely a Christian and “love” God. If feelings of love ultimately inspires us to action, how do you show God you love Him? How does that love play out in your life? Do you love Him the way that you want to love Him? Or do you love Him the way that He wants you to love Him? In a marriage or dating relationship, if our partner asks to be treated a certain way, most of us would do our best to honor their request. In a healthy relationship, we want to do what pleases our significant other. Our relationship with God is the most important relationship that we could have and loving Him is the most important thing we could do. Does God tell us how to love Him? You bet He does. God does not delight in grey areas. He works in black and white. He tell us in His Word exactly how to love Him. Wouldn’t it be great of all of our relationships were like that? It would prevent a lot of conflict!
Let’s look at some verses that tell us how God wants us to love Him.
You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep His charge, His statutes, His rules, and His commandments always. Deuteronomy 11:1
And if you will indeed obey My commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul… Deuteronomy 11:13
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and to cling to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Joshua 22:5
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. John 14:15
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My Words. And the Word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent Me. John 14:23-24
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. John 15:10
And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 2 John 2:1-6
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:2-3
Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. John 14:20-21
Whoever keeps His commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. 1 John 3:24
From these verses, we can see that God wants us to love Him by obeying His commandments (Torah/instructions). Why do you think God wants us to show our love through obedience? I think it is because obedience requires us to die to our own self-sovereignty and put Him first. It requires us to humble ourselves and submit ourselves completely to His authority. He IS our King, is He not?
David, a man after God’s own heart, loved His commandments. David knew that God’s commandments were pure and perfect. He knew that God’s commandment’s were put in place to bless him and keep him safe.
For I find my delight in your commandments, which I love. I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes. Psalms 119:47-48
Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold. Psalms 119:127
Even Yeshua, the son of God, did as the Father commanded Him and kept His commandments. If Messiah did it, and we are to imitate Messiah, shouldn’t we obey the Father too?
But I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. John 14:31
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. John 15:10
Many of us in our personal relationships try to love our partner the way that we feel love, not necessarily the way they feel love. Do we do the same with God? Do we love Him the way that we think we should? I am sure that many of you have read or at least heard about the Love Languages theory. This study guides us in determining the love language of our partner or children and helps us love them the way they feel love. God’s love language is obedience. He wants us to love Him with ALL of our heart, soul and mind (Deuteronomy 6:5). When we love God our own way, does it really please Him? If we don’t love Him in His “language,” are we really giving it our all?
It’s dangerous to disregard how He says He wants to be loved and only love Him our own way. 1 John 2:3-7 says that we do not even know Him if we do not keep His commandments! That’s a pretty strong statement! Here’s why. When we really know the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob intimately – the God of the Old Testament who never changes – we realize how very adamant that He is about His people keeping His commandments. When you really know God, you realize that His perfect Torah was put in place to bless us, to keep us safe and to transform us into the image of our Messiah. His Torah is for our good. When we humble ourselves and become obedient to Him, we are submitting to His will and He is able to fully bless and protect us.
And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Whoever says “I know Him” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the Truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His Word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked. 1 John 2:3-7
Obedience to the Torah, the instructions of God, is the outward expression of our inward love. The Torah teaches us how to show God we love Him with our actions, such as keeping the Sabbath and celebrating the Biblical Feast days. He created these special days to spend time with us – to keep us near and focused on Him. His Torah is also full of instructions that help us respect our neighbor and his property. It teaches us about fairness and equality. It teaches us how to keep our own bodies healthy by not eating certain animals. It is the perfect legal system for the coming Kingdom – for the law WILL go forth from Zion. (Isaiah 2:3, Micah 4:2)
Please don’t get me wrong. Love is displayed in action. That is true. The apostle John agrees when he says, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). But it’s still a potentially dangerous oversimplification. If we reduce love to mere action, we will miss love at its source. Love is a part of and comes from the most beautiful, most valuable, most satisfying relationship that exists: our relationship with God. God is love and all love is from God. This means that love can’t flourish apart from God. True love is revealed in Jesus’s death on the cross. He came to this wretched earth as a baby, lived along side us in our sin, endured barbaric physical persecution and finally laid His life down to redeem us for Himself as His treasured possession.
Making love only a verb will likely make us Pharisees – just going through the motions to get the desired result. God doesn’t want us to be obedient because we feel like we have to or because we are only looking to get blessed. He wants obedience to come from our hearts. God is very concerned with the status of our hearts. He wants us to love and respect Him so much that obedience is the result.
Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Therefore you shall keep His statutes and His commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for all time. Deuteronomy 4:39-40
Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear Me and to keep ALL My commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever! Deuteronomy 5:29
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. Deuteronomy 6:5-6
And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. Deuteronomy 8:2
And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 10:12
Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. Deuteronomy 10:16
And if you will indeed obey My commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. And He will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the LORD is giving you. You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. Deuteronomy 11:13-18
For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ Matthew 13:15
‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me;’ Matthew 15:8
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. Matthew 15:19
And He (Yeshua) said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40
To understand love correctly, we must see that love originates as a noun that produces verbs. The feelings of fear (awe and reverence) toward God that come from our heart should lead to us loving Him with our actions. Our love for God should then move to love others as He also commanded. (We have to dive into the greatest commandment before getting consumed in the second.)
So let your love for God drive you to obedience. Don’t love Him how you think you should. Love Him how His Word says you should. If your not sure how, just start reading. Start in Genesis and ask the Father to reveal His wisdom to you. The Old Testament was written as an example for us (1 Corinthians 10:6). It is the narrative of Israel and their journey to their promised land. If their journey from Egypt to Canaan is synonymous with our journey from this earth to our Heavenly Promised Land, what can we learn? What mistakes did they make? What can we learn from them?
Their biggest mistake was not loving God enough with their hearts so that it manifested as obedience to His commandments. They refused to love and fear God – to humble themselves and submit to His authority. Don’t let that be your biggest mistake too.
Here is a call for the endurance of the Saints (Holy Ones), those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. Revelation 14:12
Please note: Although I may not completely agree with the entire philosophy of my resources, the specific content shared has been reviewed and is found to be Biblically sound.
Video Series: MTOI: Love and Torah, (52 parts and counting)