Published February 12, 2013

Paul's Epistle...
"Saying ‘I Love You'"

Do you remember how Jesus responded when someone asked him which is the greatest commandment in the law?  The Lord said, "You shall highly esteem the Lord your God with all your heart..."

No, wait. That's not right.

He said, "You shall worship the Lord your God will all your heart..." Better, but that's not exactly what He said.

The Lord said, "You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matt. 2:37).

So it's not "worship" or "respect" or "highly esteem," per se – although those things are good. Instead, it's "love!" The Lord wants us to love Him. Those other things are certainly important, but it's "love" that God wants. Why? Because He knows those other things will follow naturally if we truly love Him.

This should not be surprising, of course, because God Himself is love. He IS love. His very essence is love. (1 John 4:8,16). So it's only natural that He should want us to be like Him – not only to love, but, specifically, to love Him. He wants us – in our limited human way – to return the boundless love that He's already showed us.

So... Do you love God?

"Paul, of course I love Him. Look at all He did for me! Christ died on Calvary to pay the penalty for my sin, showing His great love for me. So of course I love Him."

Well, that's good. "We love him, because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19).

But now let me ask another question: Have you told God recently that you love Him? Have you, in prayer, simply said those three little words with honestly and sincerity: "I love You."

I would guess this is not something we say nearly often enough in prayer, even if it is, in reality, the way we feel. It's like the husband who, when asked why he never tells his wife that he loves her, said, "I told her once that I loved her, and if anything changes I'll let her know."

Why do we do that? Why do we not bother to tell God we love Him? God's love is unconditional, of course, but He does like to hear us say we love Him. He's like the daddy who loves nothing more than to hear his children tell him, in all honesty and simplicity, that they love him.

The only time I could find in the New Testament where someone says "I love you" directly to Christ is when Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Peter said, "Yes, Lord, You know that I love you." Three times Jesus asked. And three times Peter said he loved the Lord. (Notice Peter had not volunteered the information — Christ had to ask for it.)  But each time, Jesus instructed Peter that because of his professed love for the Lord he should "feed My sheep." In other words, love for the Lord will manifest itself in our treatment for others.

Perhaps that's the problem.  Do we somehow fear getting "too close to God" because we're afraid He might tell us something He wants us to do? If that's you, you're not alone. But it is not the right attitude toward God. Remember that He wants only that which is best for you. Romans 8:28 is still in the Book.

So, have you told the Lord lately that you love Him?

Try making it a regular part of your prayers. Always tell the Lord you love Him. A simple "Lord, I love you" is all that's needed – spoken, of course, from the heart.

And then just watch. As you continue to tell the Lord you love Him, you will find your love for Him actually growing. The more you tell Him you love Him, the stronger and deeper your love will grow. And the more you'll experience His love in return - not because it wasn't there all along, but because you're opening yourself to perceive it and to receive it.

He's already told you He loves you in so many ways. Now it's your turn to tell Him.

"I love you Lord, and I lift my voice
To worship You, O my soul, rejoice!
Take joy, My King, in what You hear;
May it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear."*

"Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen." (Ephesians 6:24.)

- Paul

*"I Love You, Lord," Laurie Klein, 1978.

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