Tim Clinton, Ed.D.
A dad walked by his young daughter’s bedroom and saw her playing on the floor surrounded by her dolls and stuffed animals. Crocodile tears were streaming down her face. Gently he asked her, “What’s wrong honey?” She looked up and whispered, “Dad, I love them…I love them…I love them. But they never love me back.”
The bedrock of Christianity hangs on the love of God toward you and me. As children we are taught that “God is love” (1 John 4:8ESV)… and that He “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV)
In the Psalms alone, God’s “steadfast love” toward us is mentioned over 120 times. In fact, every one of the 26 verses of Psalm 136 uses the word steadfast, which in the Hebrew encompasses God’s never-ending grace, favor and mercy.
What’s interesting also is the emphasis the Bible puts on how we are to love God back.
In response to being asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus himself replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37 ESV)
That isn’t play! “All of your heart, soul and mind”.
Have you ever wondered what that really looks like? Especially to God?
How do we even attempt to love God like that?
Undoubtedly, one of the greatest expressions of our love for God is in our times of praise and worship. Jesus explained to the Samaritan woman at the well that true worshippers “worship the Father in spirit and in truth…” (John 4:23 ESV) However, notice the next phrase – “the Father is seeking such people to worship (love) him.” (vs. 23 ESV)
The inference of the Greek word for “seeking” is to intensely desire or crave. Our Father craves our worship…He desires time with us…He loves when we spend time in prayer with Him.
Jesus said we also show love to Him when we keep (obey) His commandments. (John 14:15)
Is it difficult to tell God, and express to Him, that we love Him? Oh yes! We often struggle because we feel distant, angry, cheated or even unworthy.
The Apostle John beautifully helps us understand “loving God” by writing, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1John 4:10 ESV). John continues with “We love, because he (God) first loved us.” (vs. 19 ESV) Loving Him starts by understanding more fully He loves us.
And each morning He pours out His love – full of grace, favor and mercy. And they fail not.
Let’s go back to the little girl and her dolls – does God ever look down and whisper, “I love them…I love them… I love them…But they never love me back”?
Right now – love Him back.
It will turn your life around.
Tim Clinton, Ed.D., LPC, LMFT (The College of William and Mary) is President of the nearly 50,000-member American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), the largest and most diverse Christian counseling association in the world. He is Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care, and Executive Director of the Center for Counseling and Family Studies at Liberty University. Licensed in Virginia as both a Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist, Tim now spends a majority of his time working with Christian leaders and professional athletes. He is recognized as a world leader in faith and mental health issues and has authored over 20 books including Breakthrough: When to Give In, When to Push Back. Most importantly, Tim has been married 36 years to his wife Julie and together they have two children, Megan, who is married to Ben Allison and is practicing medicine in dermatology, and Zach, who plays baseball at Liberty University. In his free time, you’ll find him outdoors or at a game with family and friends.