What does it mean to love God? Loving God doesn’t necessarily mean that you have warm feelings toward God. It means that you respect who He is, and that you do what He tells you to do. You love Him by obeying Him.
We need to love God on His terms. In 1 John 2:5 it says, “Whoever keeps His Word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected.” So, we love God by keeping His Word.
It’s important to understand this when we come to such a wonderful verse as Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,…” The emphasis here is on the ones loving God.
The word for “love” here is the word agapao, and it is used of love—not in the sense of feelings and emotions, but in the sense of doing what is right and good. It’s a decision of the mind, not a feeling of the heart. Now you also need to know that this verb is in the present tense, which means that it’s talking about a lifestyle of obeying God. It’s not just a one-time event.
So, what’s the bottom line in all of this? Well, it’s important to notice that there is a condition in this verse. All things don’t just work together for good. They work together for good to those who are loving God. If you are ignoring and disregarding His Word as a basis of your decision-making, then you can’t place much confidence in the idea that all things are going to work together for your good. But, when you are walking with the Lord and studying His Word and seeking to do His will—in short, when you are loving Him, then you can count on the fact that He will make sure that all things will work together for your good.
At the end of his life, the Apostle Paul looked back on everything that had happened to him and said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will award me in that day;…” (2 Timothy 4:7). He knew that all things had worked together for good because he was a man who had loved the Lord. It’s for those who love Him.
So, does your love for the Lord include obedience?