In Christianity, there is perhaps no more important verse than Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD.” This is part of what the Jewish people would quote every day as part of their daily routine. It serves as a reminder that there is a God, Jehovah is His name, and there is no other God in the universe. With this foundational truth, there is only one right response of worship, as verse 5 commands, “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Jesus said during his earthly ministry that this was the first and greatest of all the commandments. It is a commandment based on the foundational truth that there is only one true and living God and Jehovah is his name.
In order for a Christian man to truly live with honor, he must zero in on his need to love God in accordance with this verse. While none of us will perfectly love God in this way, through our union with Christ in salvation, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can grow in this love for God. The New Testament gives us at least two ways our love for God can be evidenced. Jesus said in John 14:15 that if we love him, then we will obey his commandments. If a Christian man says he loves God, one way that love is demonstrated is through his study of and obedience to God’s Word. A second evidence of our love for God is given in 1 John 4:20-21. If we love God, we will love God’s people. If a Christian man says he loves God, that will be evidenced through his demonstrations of love for the church of Jesus Christ.
Our love for God is supreme.
There is nothing else on this earth, either real or perceived, that is worthy of our utmost love and exclusive worship. Men, when we allow our jobs, our hobbies, or our relationships to hinder or hijack our love for God, then we have become practicing idolators and spiritual adulterers. While work is important, it cannot overtake your commitment to God, as evidenced in your daily time with God in his Word and in prayer. While other things crowd your schedule, setting aside the Lord’s Day for corporate worship and ministry is vital to both evidencing and cultivating your love for God. These things cannot be denied.
Puritan Thomas Watson wrote in his book, The Godly Man’s Picture, referring to the need to love God, “If this be the sign of a godly man, how few will be found in the number! Where is the man whose heart is dilated in love to God? Many court him – but few love him. People are for the most part eaten up with self-love; they love their ease, their worldly profit, their lusts – but they do not have a drop of love to God.”
There is a second love which we must cultivate as well, and that is a love for others. The second greatest commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18). This second commandment flows out of the first. When we cultivate a love for God as we ought, that will lead to a proper love for others as well. This love for others includes (but is not limited to) our closest neighbors – those within our own homes. Husbands, you cannot claim to love God properly when you degrade, abuse, or neglect your wife. Fathers, you cannot claim to love God properly when you domineer over your children, ignore them, or treat them harshly.
Our love for others is selfless.
Selfless love considers others better than ourselves. It is willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others without the expectation of getting something in return. It gives others the benefit of the doubt. It is quick to admit fault. It is gracious with others. It speaks words of affirmation and encouragement, rather than words that degrade and demean people. While it does not shirk the biblical responsibility to discipline, it disciplines out of a heart of love rather than anger, and seeks for reconciliation rather than vengeance.
A Christian man who seeks to truly live honorably before God will repent of his unhealthy love and seek God’s grace to grow in rightly loving God and others, for the glory of God.