How to Grow in Love for God
Rachel Olsen

"Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name! For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations." Psalm 100:4b-5 (AMP)

I remember the late-night conversation with my dad, the one I'd been praying would naturally arise. The one about God, and Jesus, and salvation. I'd understood these things myself for the first time a few months before, and now it was my desperate hope that my dad would understand them too. But even more than grasping their meaning, I wanted my dad to be drawn to them, to feel them—to experience their truth for himself.

My dad has a strong intellect and I knew the likelihood was high that Dad would settle for a mere understanding of my new found passion. Yet I longed for my dad to come to love this King of Glory in a way that would propel him to follow Christ.

"But how am I supposed to love someone I can't even see?" Dad said.

His words were ordered as a question but I couldn't quite tell if he was asking, or simply dismissing. Either way, I didn't know how to answer him. But I do now. I now realize a huge key to loving Jesus is gratitude.

1 John 4:19 explains, "We love Him, because He first loved us" (AMP). Even though we were sinful and He is holy, God loved us. Even though we were ignorant or hostile towards Him, He still loved us. Even though we were intent on making our own way in life, He still made a path for us—Jesus—leading to life with Him. It takes belief in this fact, and gratitude for it, for a heart to truly love God in return.

The religious leaders of Jesus' day, the Pharisees, were masters at following God's laws, but failures at loving Him. In Luke 7, a Pharisee invited Jesus over for dinner. A prostitute entered the dining room, knelt and began weeping, kissing, and wiping Jesus' feet with her hair. Then she perfumed them. The Pharisee grew indignant that Jesus allowed this from such a sinful woman.

So Jesus asked the Pharisee a question: If a moneylender cancelled the debts of two men—one that owed him $5,000, and one that owed him $50—which one would love him more after that? "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled," the Pharisee answered (Luke 7:43, NIV). Jesus told him he was correct. Then Jesus added:

"Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn't offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn't greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love." (Luke 7:44-47, NLT)

This woman realized the magnitude of her sins, and the extent of God's love for her to forgive all those sins and bid her to come to Him. And she was grateful. She was so thankful, that her heart overflowed with love for Jesus, sparking her extravagant display of affection and appreciation.

There is a direct correlation between our level of awareness of what we deserve—an awareness of our own sin—and our level of gratitude and love for God. A key to growing in love for God is to be aware of what He has done, is doing, and will do for us, and to remain grateful for it.

No one will ever do more for you than Christ has done—open your eyes to this fact today and be filled with gratitude. "Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name! For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations" (Psalm 100:4b-5).

Dear Lord, I am thankful today for the love You showed me, long before I even noticed it. I'm grateful for Your blessings and grace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
For 5 simple ways to love God through gratitude this month, visit Rachel’s blog

God’s Purpose for Every Woman: a Compilation of Favorite P31 Devotions by various Encouragement for Today authors; Gen Editors Rachel Olsen and Lysa TerKeurst

Saying Thank You offers practical ways to give gratitude to God

Come Along: The Journey into a More Intimate Faith by Jane Rubietta

Application Steps:
Reflect on the many reasons you have to be grateful to God. Give thanks and praise Him!

For some additional, practical steps you can take to cultivate gratitude, visit Rachel's blog.

No one will ever do more for you than God, through Christ, has already done.

How does your perspective on today change when you consider the tremendous gifts of grace, mercy, love and eternal life given you through Christ?

Power Verses:
1 Chronicles 16:34, "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." (NIV)

Hebrews 12:28, "Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;" (NASB)

© 2010 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

God has indeed done so much for me the sins where numerous and like this woman whom understood the magnitude of Christ forgiving us and His great love He showed to us my heart can't help but be glad and rejoice in Him.The love can never be measured by a human point of view.His love was so profound I just can't thank him enough and He continues to love me inspite of my weakness.Lord I thank you for this great thing you have done giving life to a dying gave me a reason to live. Thank you Father.

Your daughter Donna.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

amazing Savior. we adore you and we are thankful for where you have brought us out of. thank you for loving me and showing me mercy and love. Your grace is sufficant for me. Thank You.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. Donna you said it perfectly, giving life to a dying soul, you gave me a reason to live. Thank you Jesus!

Blogger horseprariechatter said...

It's wintery white here on Horse prairie and this devotional reminded me on the lyrics"

1. I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”
* Refrain:
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
2. For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim;
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
3. And now complete in Him,
My robe, His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.
4. Lord, now indeed I find
Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.
5. When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.
6. And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down,
All down at Jesus’ feet.

Thank you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Donna said it all. Those are my thoughts exactly. Thank You Lord.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I apprecaite this post. I really want to live a more thankful life.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel,

I just wanted to say that I searched the phrase "how to grow in love for God" in Google and came to your page. The phrase "There is a direct correlation between our level of awareness of what we deserve—an awareness of our own sin—and our level of gratitude and love for God" struck me to the core in a very deep way that springboarded me into a beautiful prayer time with God. Thank you for your post. And God bless you. I thank God for His forgiveness especially deeply tonight.

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