Do You Love God More Than Anything Else?

Staff-Pic-Template-Jennifer-Power

“Do You Love God More Than Anything Else?”

I recently posed this question to a group of fifth and sixth grade boys, and I received two different responses:

“No.” and “DON’T SAY THAT!”

That night, the students were high energy and struggling to focus, but when I asked this question, something stilled in them. The first response was quiet and matter-of-fact. The second response was shock at the first couple boys who said no.

Another boy asked me, “isn’t it wrong to say you don’t love God more than anything else? Aren’t we supposed to?

LoveGodsWord

Why did the boys respond this way? Why did they not say yes? Why did the “no” responses jolt them and cause a harsh correction of their peers?

Though the boys were obviously uncomfortable with the question and responses, I was thankful for a chance to have authentic conversation about a topic too often confusing and lacking in authenticity. Sure, we’d all love to say we love God more than anything else, but do we?

How do our children learn to hide the truth about themselves from God? Is it the natural response of sin in their lives? Is it something we are teaching them?

Jesus tells us in scripture the greatest commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Most of us probably know this, and many of our kids likely know this too, but is it enough that we know we should love Him the most? If we don’t love Him most, do we think we are hiding this from God by claiming to love Him best when we don’t really feel or act like it?

In an attempt to teach our children truth, are we shielding them from reality?

In this case, the truth is Jesus tells us to love God with everything within us, but the reality is we just often don’t.

That night with the fifth and sixth grade boys, I told them it was okay that the first two boys answered honestly when they said they don’t love God most. I then asked them what they could do about this reality.

The got the answer right: “Pray,” they said.

I assured them there was nothing they could tell God that would shock Him. He knows us better than we know ourselves. If we don’t love Him most, He most assuredly already knows this. The sin is not in admitting this fact to God – the sin is knowing and choosing to do nothing in response.

Let me tell you something from my own experience: God responds to a child’s heartfelt desire to love Him.

I was once just like the boys in my class: I knew I did not love God most.

Growing up, I remember many times pleading with God to help me love Him more. I remember looking at others who seemed to love Him more than I and desiring that same love. I remember knowing this world holds emptiness and believing deep in my soul that real life can only be found in Him. Even when I had not yet experienced this reality, I believed it was true and sought after it with the best of my young might.

And God responded.

It was slow. It was a process, and there were certainly times in my journey to love God most when I felt despair and nothingness. It was and continues to be far from easy.

But God has been faithful to me.

I am living proof God did not give us the command to love Him most so He could watch us fail and pretend. If we let Him, He will teach us to love Him. I stand today as one who loves God more than anything else – with the very best of my broken heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Perfectly? Absolutely not. Yet, by His grace and grace alone, He makes deep rooted love for Himself a powerful reality in my life, rivaling and beating out all other affections. I still fall on my face more than I care to admit. I am still selfish, unloving, and sinful; yet the reality in my life in every season is me falling more and more in love with my greatest love and closest companion, Jesus Christ.

He will do this for you too. Maybe He already has.

He will do this for your children.

We must teach our children the realities of our life in Him – not just the platitudes. We must be willing to admit to there is room in our relationship with Christ for doubt, struggle, and authenticity with the Father and maker of our souls. We must not pretend for them that everything with God is easy.

They will too soon discover this is not so, and it is our job to prepare them. We must model for our children the faith we wish to impart rather than a shallow reflection of what we wish our faith was like. Might our children see in us just how deep, real, and rich life with Christ is meant to be. May you be blessed this day as you and your household seek the one true, real and holy, mighty and awesome God who is our closest friend and helper.

Mark 12:29-31
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Matthew 7:7-11
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

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