The Word of God: How Am I to Love God by Loving It?
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 … with 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 of Christ.
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.
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- The Word of God: How Am I to Love God by Loving It?