“Love God and Do What You Want” (Based on Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
Saint Augustine, a bishop back in the 4th century, said, “Love God and do what you want.” Love God and do what you want. That’s all Christians have to do. Can you believe that? We just have to love God and then we can do whatever we want. Sounds easy, right? We can love God. And we can certainly do whatever we want. Count me in for that deal.
But what does that statement mean? “Love God and do what you want.” Well, the first word there is love, right? So what does the word love mean? We all have things and people that we love so what does it mean to love something or to love someone?
What if I said, I love tacos? And really, tacos are my favorite food. But can I really love tacos? I can feel positively toward tacos. What if I said I love my wife, too? I say I love tacos, I say I love my wife. Does that mean that I feel the same way about Mindy as I feel about tacos? Of course not. If I did, my marriage would be in real trouble, wouldn’t it?
Because when I say I love the taco, I’m saying I enjoy the taco because of what it does for me. It tastes good. It fills my gut. But I don’t have to do anything for the taco, do I? It’s there for me and I don’t have to do anything for it. I don’t have to worry about whether the taco is happy or not. I don’t have to express my gratitude to the taco for letting me eat it.
But my wife is different. I love her and that means something different that loving the taco. I do things for my wife, I try to make her happy, because I love her. I want to please her. What if that taco doesn’t taste very good one day? Do I still love it? Of course not. I throw it away or maybe just don’t enjoy it as much. What if Mindy does something that makes me angry? Do I stop loving her? I might not feel very positively toward her right then, I might not enjoy her company right then, but I still love her.
Or what if I just got kind of lazy in my marriage and I still told Mindy I loved her, but I never did anything for her? I never spent any time with her. Would you say I was really loving her? I mean, I’m saying I love her, I’m just not doing anything to express that love.
The point is that love is not simply an emotional state that you’re in. Love is not simply feeling positive about something or someone. Love, real love, is action. You can express love with your words, but you also to have express love by what you do.
Deuteronomy 6:1-12 - These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. 10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Moses has just given the people the Ten commandments; You shall have no other gods other than God, You shall not make an idol, You shall not misuse God’s name, Keep the Sabbath, Obey your parents, Don’t murder, Don’t commit adultery, Don’t Steal, Don’t lie about other people, Don’t be jealous of what other people have.
After giving these commandments to the people, Moses says, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” and teach your children to do the same. It’s almost as if Moses is saying, You’ve heard the rules, you’ve heard the Top Ten of God’s commands, now let me give you the summary statement. Love God. Love God with all that you are and all that you have. He could have said, “Love God and do what you want.” Because if we love God, if we truly love God, He will be the one that we worship, we won’t misuse His name, we’ll want to take at least one day out of our week to take a break in our normal schedules to worship and learn about Him, we won’t reject the good and Godly advice that our parents give us, we won’t murder or harm another person that God has made in His own image, we won’t dishonor the spouses that God has given us and God’s plan for marriage and sexuality by cheating on our spouses, we won’t rob someone of what God has blessed them with, we won’t tell falsehoods about another one of God’s children, we won’t be ungrateful to God and think that He hasn’t blessed us enough to the point where we’re wanting what belongs to someone else.
Loving God is obeying His commands. Love is an emotion, but more importantly, it’s action. Love is always shown by what you do. When Augustine said, “Love God and do what you want,” what he was saying was that if you love God, you won’t want to do anything that displeases Him. The things you want to do will be those things that make Him happy, just like I try to do things that please Mindy because I love her, just like you try to do the things that please the people you love. We love God and we show that by our actions.
Well, now that we know what it is to love God, the last question we want to ask today is, Why should we love God? Why should we want to do the things that please Him? Again, Deuteronomy says,
10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
The reason the Israelites were commanded to love God and follow His commands was because God was the one who had freed them from their bondage of slavery in Egypt. He was the one who was bringing them into the Promised Land of Canaan and was blessing them in their daily lives. By doing these things, God had shown love to the Israelites and so it was proper for them to return that love out of their thankfulness for the things God had done.
It’s the same with us and more so. God has not taken us out of slavery in Egypt, but He has delivered us from our slavery to sin. And our Promised Land is not a piece of earthly ground, though God does still bless us in this life, our Promised Land is Heaven, the place where we live eternally with God Himself.
God has loved us by what He has done. He has proven His love. Now let us love God by what we do. Amen? Amen.