Throughout the Bible we find great men of faith who expressed their love for God. It would do us good to stop and listen to some of these men as they express their love for God.
Some who loved the wrong God. First, we need to consider the fact that there were some who loved the wrong god. They did not love the God of heaven, God Almighty. They loved a false god. They loved something they placed above the true and living God.
(i)Demas. Here is a man who at one time followed the true and living God. However, we observe in 2 Timothy 4:10 he loved the present world. Demas left the faith and went back and served the world. He made the world his god. I don’t know what it was that might have lured Demas away from the faith and taken him back into a life of sin, but one thing I know: he made this world his god. Whatever you put first in your life is your god; that is what you will love and serve. Demas said, “I love the world,” made that the object he worshiped, and left the true and living God.
(ii)Judas. Here was a man who loved money. He was willing to sell the Lord for thirty pieces of silver; for the price of a slave he sold Jesus. Here was a man who served his god. From Judas we learn if you love money you will go to great lengths to obtain money, hold onto said money, and guard that money. Judas chose money as his god instead of the true and living God.
(iii)Diotrephes (3 Jno.9). Here was a man who looked religious, but was wrong. He made power in the church his god. Some people just are power hungry. It is their way or the highway and they divide local churches and don’t act as God would have one act. They make power their god. They long to be over others and have people bow down to their commands. Each of these men I am sure loved their god, but they served the wrong god. They served a false god.
Loving the true and living God. Observe some who truly loved God.
(i)Stephen (Acts 7). He preached Christ in the face of controversy and persecution. He served God even when it was difficult. He said, “I love God even more than my own life.” He preached his convictions and it cost him his life, but the reward was far greater. He went to be with the God he loved and served.
(ii)Barnabas. In Acts 4 we see this man was one who sacrificed to help others. He was a man who did good to glorify God. He was a man that set a good example by living a holy life. Why? He loved God. In Barnabas I see a man who loved his God. He loved God Almighty even though he was mistreated by others at times for his love and dedication to God.
(iii)Paul. A shining example before all of us would be Paul. Look what this man was willing to give up to follow the
true and living God. There is no doubt Paul showed a deep abiding love for the God of heaven.
Questions for us to consider. Let us look at some important questions.
(i)Who or what is your God? What you spend the most time serving and invest the most resources doing is a good indication of who or what you serve as your god. Recreation is good, making money is fine as long as they do not become the gods we serve and are put before the true and living God. Is this world pulling you away from God? Is there something keeping you from being the Christian (disciple) God wants you to be? Are you power hungry or hungry for the bread of life?
(ii)Do you love the true and living God? Is He first in your life? Do you spend time in prayer and study of His word? How much time do you give God each day, week, year? Do you call Him your God, then turn around and worship something else? Can you say, “I love my God” and it be the true and living God? Would you be willing to sacrifice time, money, ability to serve Him? Would you like Paul give up all to serve Him? Would you like Stephen be willing to die for Him? Would you likewise be willing to live for Him? Do you truly love God?
We are a grasping society. We want more things. We want more entertainment. We want more things. We want more recognition. We want more things. We want more advancement. We want more things. We want more control. We want more things. Fact is, we want more things. We’re not satisfied. There is a sense of frustration which accompanies dissatisfaction. There is a reason for such frustration. We tend to try to satisfy with that which can only pacify. We find things that gratify for a while, but they soon wane and our thirst reappears, often with an even fiercer bite to it. Off we go, searching for some new invention, some new bauble which will give us some satisfaction, only to find that the same voracious appetite reappears. We’re trying to satisfy ourselves with paltry means. Satisfaction can come only when we feed the whole man--and with the things He intended. It’s not wrong to have things; things satisfy. But what about the other appetites we have? God has given us an intellect. He satisfies the needs of that intellect by giving us information and by allowing us to “subdue” the earth (Gen. 1:28). There is a sense of satisfaction when the mind is given its learning exercise. When there is no learning man shrivels mentally; he feels empty, unfilled. Man was made to learn. God has given us an aesthetic nature. Man naturally tends toward lovely things. Of all of God’s creatures, He alone is fitted to appreciate the beauty of art, the harmony of music, the symmetry of fine piece of sculpture, the song of a bird (Psalm. 19:1-4). God has provided what we need to satisfy this appetite by giving us beauty in nature, color, harmony, design, order. When man deprives himself of this natural tendency he will have a deep feeling of dissatisfaction. Man was made to appreciate. God has given us an emotional nature. This basic characteristic makes him tune in to his surroundings. Emotion is especially pertinent to human relationships--friendship, camaraderie, erotica. Man loves, he hates. He laughs, he cries. He appreciates, he disdains. He hurts, he feels good. He gets angry, he is passive. “Jesus wept” (Jno. 11:35) is a statement about his emotional nature. When the situation calls for it and we don’t cry we’re apt to have it well up in us until sometime later a veritable emotional explosion takes place. Furthermore, something is seriously wrong with a person who sees no humor in life. Contentment in this area is hard to achieve, but is a supreme satisfaction when it is achieved. Man is made to feel. God has given us a soul. This soul must be fed just like the body (Mt. 4:4). There is a hunger that attends man’s moral nature just like that which is physical, and when it is not attended to there is not only an unfulfilled appetite, but serious consequences may result to the body’s health. God has given His word to satisfy man’s hunger for the soul (Jno. 6:35). His conscience cries out to God for relief out of his recognition of his sins, and God provides (I Pet. 3:21). “The appeal to God for a clear conscience” is an effort to satisfy the longing for forgiveness. Worship is the provision for man’s inherent need for recognition by his Creator. The local church and its various activities serve to provide man with the need for spiritual fellowship. Man is made to glorify God. With faith God appeals to a man’s intellect. With repentance He appeals to man’s emotions and will. With obedience (first baptism, then faithful participation) He appeals to man’s desire to be recognized and be in fellowship Him. Special things satisfy special needs. When I’m hungry for popcorn, only popcorn will satisfy. When I hunger for exercise, only some strenuous activity will satisfy. When I long for good music, nothing else will do. When I long for my beloved Norma, only she can warm my heart. And when I have an ardent longing for recognition by my Creator, only He and His methods will answer my needs. Satisfaction is a fine feeling. Being unfulfilled has a gnawing effect on a person. The only real satisfaction is that which comes from the knowledge that you’ve done your best to serve and reverence God (Eccles. 12:13). After all, that’s what man is all about.