We have been living through testing times, internationally, nationally and personally. We have the assurance that God is sovereign in these events. As professing Christians we may have found our faith challenged and tested. We may well have had fresh experiences of God’s grace. As we begin a new, and different, season of work, this is a good time to take stock. In the coming weeks we will undertake a Spiritual Check-up, examining ourselves in the light of God’s Word. We begin with 1. Do you love the Lord?
1. Do you love him because he saved you?
In Psalm 116:1 the psalmist recounts his experience of God’s grace. When he was at the end of his resources, he cried out to the Lord who heard and delivered him. We are right to apply the psalmist’s words to the great issues of sin and salvation. The biggest question we all have to face is – are you saved? This is a matter of eternal life and eternal death. Whatever our bodily and mental health may be, the Bible tells us clearly that spiritually our natural condition is death: ‘dead in your transgressions and sins’ (Ephesians 2:1). Into this grim situation comes the Good News of the gospel – ‘believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved’ (Acts 16:31). The work of the Son of God in his life, death and resurrection has provided all that is necessary for sinners’ salvation and it is the fruit of God’s eternal love for sinners. 1 John 4:19 tells believers, ‘We love because he first loved us’. As we experience God’s love in Christ, we are set free to love him (and others). Any claim to be a Christian is empty unless it is accompanied by love for the Lord.
2. Do you love him because he provides for you?
Christians are able to address God as ‘Our father in heaven’ (Matthew 6:9). As a perfect father, he knows and provides for all the needs of his children, much more than an earthly father (Matthew 7:11). This is ‘God who provides us with everything for our enjoyment’ (1 Timothy 6:17). In response we are filled with love and thankfulness for the supply we have in Christ (Psalm 31:23). The test of the genuineness of our love is – do we love him when he disciplines us in love (Hebrews 12:6). We do not love only when his provision is easy to accept. This is true also in trials – James 1:2. In all circumstances God’s promise is ‘My grace is sufficient for you’ (2 Corinthians 12:9). Are we growing in love for him?
3. Do you show your love for him by obedience?
The Bible makes clear that a profession of love for the Lord is empty unless there is solid evidence for that claim. That evidence is obedience. The Bible never sees any tension or contradiction between loving the Lord and obeying him. Jesus tells his disciples, ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments’ (John14:15). In one sense this is a statement – this is what will flow from loving him. It is also a command, coming with the full authority of the Lord – this is what we must do. We must not fall into the error of the Pharisees. They were outstanding keepers of the law, yet Jesus condemned them (Mark 7:6). Mere outward keeping of the rules is insufficient. The obedience the Lord requires flows from love (1 John 5:3). Here is a good test to apply as we take stock spiritually: is our love shown in obedience?