I love my family.
I love my church.
I love my friends.
I love baseball.
But I have an even greater love for God. Jesus pulls together Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 in Luke 10:27, saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,” and “your neighbor as yourself.”
God gave me my family. He immeasurably blessed me with a wonderful church. I’m blessed with numerous friends. And we all know God gave us baseball because, “In the big inning” (Genesis 1:1, punny edition).
I love all of these blessings, but it helps to remember the giver of these good gifts, especially as I aim to love God with my whole being.
Because I love my family, I yearn to spend time with them. Because I love my church, I congregate with them as much as possible. Because I love my friends, frequent calls and texts are sent because I kinda enjoy ’em! Because I love baseball, I usually work my schedule around baseball games.
Thus, if I want to love like Jesus by loving God with all that I am, the time I spend with Him, the worship I offer Him, the prayers I send Him, and the schedule I carve to be with Him go a long way in revealing the warmth of that love.
I mean, how can I love God and not want to spend time with Him? How can I love God and not gather with the people He has given me to worship Him? How can I love God and live as if He doesn’t exist or has no bearing on my life and work? How can I love God if I don’t make the time to devote myself to fellowship and communion with Him?
It’s been said that our pocket-book is a good indication of who/what we worship. I tend to think that’s not unhelpful, but it certainly doesn’t give a full picture. My tithe to God and generosity to others won’t measure up to car payments and such. In fact, my cell phone bill is just about half what I normally give in a tithe. Add TV to it, and those two bills alone go above what I give to God.
However, a better way to measure, perhaps, is your schedule.
Years ago, I realized I needed to get healthy. So I started getting up earlier. I ran and ran, amassing over 70 marathons and ultramarathons. However, one day, I set the alarm 30 minutes earlier to spend time with God in prayer and study with a “quiet time” before I went out for my run. The change was remarkable.
My runs didn’t get faster or easier, but they turned into an overflow of those quiet moments of prayer and Bible reading. The words I read and prayers I prayed bled into my time on the trails or streets, and even during 100 or more mile races.
I don’t run as much now, but the same has happened to my work. Time with God before bleeds into my workday, and it’s such a blessing. It also helps with my “lesser” loves I shared earlier.
Before I eat dinner with the family, I lead our family in a time of family worship. We share things for which we’re thankful, read Scripture, sing, and pray…a, it sounds awfully silly, but I swear it makes dinner taste even better!
Before I “go to church” on Sunday, I spend time in the sanctuary praying over each pew, praying in the sound booth, and praying on the steps and platform. This focuses my mind on what matters and what I’m there for, helping me remember it’s not just a bunch of words I’ll preach but the God we’ll worship and the Word we’ll study.
When I eat with friends, I typically ask what God is doing in their life. We’ll often pray, and this, too, helps me keep a God-first focus on my time with a friend.
As far as baseball is concerned, I pray that the Astros will win. Just kidding, sorta, but I do reflect on the God-given talents of the players and give Him thanks for the chance to watch them perform.
When God comes first, everything else falls far more easily in place. As you aim to love like Jesus, remember to keep God first––in all things––with that Godward mindset, loving our neighbor comes together like a hot dog…all different, ummm, things, coming together, just right, for something awesome.