*Before we jump into this week’s scripture. I want to acknowledge that it’s the morning after the cross of Christ. What a somber morning is was for those who loved Him and for those who witnessed his brutal death. We have the privilege of knowing death couldn’t contain Him. That It was truly finished on Friday night and what was coming was resurrection. Not only for Jesus, but for all who repent and trust in Him. May it be so for you and yours. Sunday’s coming!
Grab your Bible and let’s go deeper into Matthew 22.
Matthew 22:37-38 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.
Love the Lord your God with “all”. Does that mean sometimes? Does that mean part way? Does that mean when you feel like it? Does that mean give Him some of your heart?
No, it means all. It means all the time. It means all the way. It means when you don’t feel like it. It means He gets the best you have to give. It means He is the greatest love of your life.
Do you love God with all of your heart?
This can be something we say, but in the end, is not backed up by how we live our lives.
The great commandment is really about worship. For what do you live? What causes your heart to beat? What makes your soul ache? What consumes your thoughts?
God should be the far-above-all-else answer for these things, but the reality is that for many of us He simply is not. We want Him to be, but He isn’t. So, how do we address this problem? If this is the greatest command of God for our lives and we know we are not fulfilling it, how do we begin to take it seriously?
I have come to understand that to tell myself I need to love God more than anything else can begin to feel like a religious weight on my shoulders that I just can't seem to ever address. The way I have found to help is to ask myself another question. Do I enjoy God? Is He the source of my deepest satisfaction? Is God my treasure?
If the great commandment is really a worship thing, then the truth is that authentic worship is fueled by what we enjoy.
Let me explain. The pursuit of joy and satisfaction is a God-given desire deeply driving each one of us. To find happiness, satisfaction, and joy, we will do a lot of things and, as a result, put our worship onto a lot of things. For most of us, this results in some form of hedonism.
Hedonism = the pursuit of pleasure; it is self-indulgence. It’s the theory that pleasure is the highest good and aim of human life.
The problem is that hedonism couldn’t be further from God’s will for our lives. Essentially, hedonism by itself is heathenism!
In 2 Timothy 3:4, Paul warned in the last days men would be "lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." Surely, we are in those days. This passage seems to help us begin to see the root of what affects our love for God.
Now, let me make an observation. Satisfaction, enjoyment, and pleasure are good, God-given things! I believe the Bible teaches us that the desire to be happy is God-given and should not be denied.
Before I lose you, the key here is that it must be directed to God who ultimately is the only one who can truly satisfy.
Our ultimate purpose in life is to worship God and give Him Glory! The command is to love Him above all else!
1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
True, authentic praise flows from the mouth of one who has found great enjoyment in something. If you do not truly enjoy something or love it, then your praise for it is quite possibly based on something fake or mechanical. This is the kind of love that is begrudging or mandatory. No one gets excited about worship that is forced or obligated—including God!
I know my wife doesn’t. If I take her out on an amazing date and wine and dine her to the hilt and then at the end of the night say, “It was my obligation to do this for you.” She will in no way appreciate nor receive that from me. Nor should she!
But if I take her out on an amazing date and wine and dine her to the hilt because it truly is my pleasure to do so, then she knows that she has been enjoyed and loved deeply.
Do you see the difference? It is no different with God! If you and I show up to church simply because it is our obligation, or our duty as good Christians, would He look at the worship we sing to Him on that day as authentic or even real?
Our critical error lies not in the fact that we long to be happy and enjoy life, but in the intensity of our desire to be happy. Why? Because we settle for and chase after temporary, mundane, fleshly things to satisfy us instead of chasing a greater desire that is met in the One who truly can satisfy and make us eternally full of joy and love—God himself.
C.S. Lewis says it so well in “The Weight of Glory!”
“… it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
In our flesh and sin, we dream about scraps. We try to find deep, lasting pleasure in fast motorcycles, big screen TVs, and tasty meals.
Pascal brings to light how this traps us if left alone as our only pursuit! He says, “But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.”
The point is this:
All the daily things we have been trying to gain satisfaction from can be great things that are given to us by God to be enjoyed. But, if that is all we have dreamed of and learned to enjoy, then we have settled for a distant second.
If worship of God’s glory is our highest purpose, then our lack of satisfaction in God is our biggest failure.
John Piper says it best in his most famous quote, “God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in him.”
So, when we are looking for the best way to live out our biggest purpose in life, which is to love and worship God with all our heart, mind, and soul, we don’t accomplish this by trying really hard to be a “good Christian.” We accomplish this by feasting deeply in Him instead of all the counterfeit things for which we have been chasing or longing.
As a result, we will overflow with praise and glory that will terminate, not on us and our temporary pleasures, but on Him and His eternal supremacy!
The highest calling of our life, and the reason why we are given our next breath to breathe, is to give Him glory and praise Him. This can only happen authentically and unceasingly if He is the source of our joy! God is not worshiped where He is not treasured and enjoyed!
Consider these scriptures:
Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 63:1 “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
Psalm 36:8 “They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.”
Over and over again we read in the Psalms that God is the “all-satisfying object.” Only in Him do we find the source of complete and unending pleasure, which always draws us to deep love and real praise.
God is the treasure and the satisfaction that trumps all others!
Here is what is so awesome: He willingly came to a people who choose to worship His creation instead of Him as the creator and instead of leveling us with His just and eternal wrath, He showed us amazing grace and love!
It is this grace that causes us to sing and worship, that allows our hearts to be satisfied in Him, and that makes us want to live all our life for Him.
Soldiers, I plead with you to consider not just working harder to love God more, but to really consider what you are treasuring in this life, what you are chasing or longing for, and what consumes your schedule or thoughts or desires. We must repent and turn from our over-pursuit of these things and back to God. We must cling to Him, dig into His word to stir our hearts for Him, and surround ourselves with men who will constantly remind us that Jesus is better!
“God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him.”
For further study on this topic and a great guide for the Christian life, I encourage you to get a copy of John Piper’s book Desiring God. Next to the Scriptures, this book has helped ignite and deepen my faith-walk with God like no other. Read it slowly and read it thoughtfully.
When your satisfaction and joy are in God, your love for Him will be all! Put down the mud pies and let’s go sailing!