The 10 Irrefutable Laws of Loving God
“Love God” can sound pretty nebulous.
Sort of like “eat well” or “be nice.” What does it look like in action? How can “love God” move beyond pious sentimentality into practical reality?
I’m here to help. With apologies to John Maxwell, I present to you the 10 Irrefutable Laws of Loving God.
1. Attend to God above all else.
So many things clamor for our attention: work, sports, even—Heaven help us—politics. We love God by attending to Him above all else.
There’s a poignant scene in the film Ladybird where a nun is counseling the restless, rebellious Ladybird—who is convinced she must get out of her hometown.
“It is clear that you love Sacramento,” says the nun.
A flummoxed Ladybird responds, “I guess I pay attention.” To which the nun responds: “Don’t you think they’re the same thing? Love and attention?”
Love God by attending to Him first and foremost.
2. Give God the glory—even in little things.
I spent a summer as a college student living in inner-city Detroit and worshipping at a predominantly African-American church. One of the things that always jumped out at me was how quick the ladies were to give God glory in everything, large or small.
New job? Hallelujah, thank you Jesus.
Recovery of health? Praise Him! Lift Him up!
Parking spot? Glory be!
Those simple expressions of praise and thanks, of giving God the glory, are a lovely way of loving Him.
3. Cherish God’s Word.
It’s an annual tradition around my house to watch the 2003 film Luther later this month, in commemoration of Reformation Day. One of the real strengths of this account of the Reformation’s rise is its focus on Luther’s translation of the Bible into vernacular German.
There’s a powerful moment later in the film when Luther presents his benefactor, Frederick the Wise, with the first copy of the New Testament in German. The good prince starts licking his chops like a dog looking at a t-bone. It never ceases to convict and inspire me to cherish the Holy Scriptures.
We love God by loving His Word, and by no means taking for granted that we have the freedom to read and hear it proclaimed.
4. Follow the speed limit.
Yes, you read that right. God has placed authorities over us. The authorities institute laws for our good, and the good of our neighbor. That’s not to say, of course, that every law—or every lawgiver—is just and righteous. Far from it.
But that’s almost beside the point. Inasmuch as a law is flagrantly unjust or contrary to God’s Word, then we should oppose it. That does not describe the vast majority of civil law, however—starting with speed limits.
Love God by abiding by the laws of the land.
5. Look after “the least” in your neighborhood.
We all know Jesus’ words, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25.40). How seriously do we take them?
This statement of our Lord has radical ramifications. If we want to love God, we don’t have to look far—just find a local mercy ministry, and serve the least in that place. Shucks, look around your neighborhood, if not your own home. Christ Jesus is concealed in the least of these all around us.
Love God by looking after the least.
6. Always speak well of your spouse.
Speaking of loving your neighbor, if you are married you have no closer one than your spouse. Even apart from the painful dissensions that can come in a marriage, all too often husbands and wives will speak ill of one another to others—even in the company of their spouse.
This should not be. We dishonor God when we dishonor our spouse. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever have dirty laundry; it means you won’t air it out with the poker buddies or the book club. Especially when you are together with others, you will speak well of his work ethic, you’ll commend her cooking, and you’ll avoid at all costs sarcastic barbs.
Love God by lifting up your better half.
7. Patronize local businesses.
What could where we shop have to do with how we love God? Well, look past the storefront to the store owner. Your local establishments are peopled by your neighbors. They keep money in the local economy and provide livelihoods for your fellow citizens.
I am not saying you shouldn’t ever shop at Amazon, for example. (They have received about half of my net worth.) I am just encouraging us to be a little more thoughtful about where we spend our dollars—to think about how we can help our neighbor to improve and protect his income and investment.
Love God by shopping local.
8. Assume the best.
In our fractured age, where more mud is flung than among a mess of monkeys after a monsoon, there is an urgent need for the old virtue of being charitable.
People are so quick to assume the worst about others: their motives, their intent, their “agendas.” There will always be disagreement where there are people. We can mitigate its effects, however, by assuming the best. And note well—sometimes the best is still not good. But we love God when we are slow to castigate our fellow creatures.
Love God by being charitable about others’ motives.
9. Quit trying to keep up with the Joneses.
It’s practically an American pastime: looking on with gimlet eye at our neighbor’s new car, lawn care, or leather chair. We all disavow “keeping up with the Joneses,” and yet are so easily drawn into doing exactly that.
Draw a line in the sand, if not your front lawn, and let the Joneses do their own thing. It’s probably greener in your yard, anyway.
Love God by being grateful for your own household.
10. Cut out “window-coveting.”
This one goes hand in hand with the previous. We all love going to the mall in order to…what? Buy a needed product? No, we say, just “window-shopping”—or as I call it, “window-coveting.”
Yes, there are times when you’re genuine searching out something that you need. That’s not what I’m talking about. I mean the sort of thoughtless craving that is fed by the non-stop menu of advertisements coming our way. God gives you what you need. Give thanks for what you have. Buck the constant coveting.
Love God by giving thanks for the gifts given.
So there you have it: the 10 Irrefutable Laws of Loving God. Do they sound kind of familiar? They should. These are all just riffs on the 10 Commandments, which as Luther reminds us in the Small Catechism are all simply variations on the theme of “fearing and loving God.”
You don’t need to be in the dark about how to love God. He’s shown us how. We constantly fail, of course—thus Jesus. But now, enlivened and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can love God well…in ways that are probably simpler than we realized.
So why not start by keeping the speed limit.