The title of this post is a quote from Saint Augustine. It is a simple sentence with profound implications on our spiritual lives. Essentially, he is saying that if we love God, truly love Him, then we can do whatever we want, because what we want to do is to love Him. This may not seem like much, but it is huge!
How much time do we, as Christians, spend agonizing over decisions constantly trying to figure out what God is calling or leading us to do? The answer is simple:
“Delight yourself in The Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
Does this mean that we are all going to be rich and famous? No. It means, when God is the desire of our heart, we don’t have to worry about trying to discerning His will for our lives.
The problem is that we, as sinful humans, ask the wrong question. We want to know, “How much can I get away with?” Or “What do I have to do?” Both of these stem from selfishness…we are concerned that we may have to give up our “fun,” that we won’t be able to watch our favorite tv shows, drink alcohol or wear bikinis. Wake up people! What do you think would have happened to you if Jesus had let his own petty concerns get in the way of His service to the Father? He freed us from the sort of legalism that we constantly inflict on ourselves. We put rules around ourselves in an effort to keep ourselves from sin, but the result is that we make the act of breaking our rules a sin in and of itself. This distracts us from what is important, serving God and honoring Him with every aspect of our lives. That is the question we should ask, “What can I do to bring glory to God? What can I sacrifice for His sake?” But instead we worry about things like, “Is it ok to watch rated R movies?”
People ask me why I wear skirts, cover my head, don’t family plan, etc. Well-meaning Christians feel the need to point out to me that the Bible doesn’t say I have to do these things. We could argue the point, but it doesn’t matter because I don’t feel like I have to do these things, I choose to do them. The Bible does tell me enough to know that it honors both The Lord and my husband for me to clothe myself modestly, my head covering is a symbol of submission, as is our letting God decide our family size.
Many women feel that these things are restrictive, or hard to do, and they can be at times, but that is why it is a sacrifice. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t always get it right and I daily find new things and ways that I could but fail to honor God through my actions. I am still susceptible to legalistic thoughts as well as judging others around me who choose differently than I. Recently, we have been convicted of the food that we eat and choosing more Christ honoring foods by which we can be better stewards of the earth and our bodies. These changes will require quite a bit more effort from me because it takes a lot more prep to make things like bread from scratch. My first instinct is to think, “This is too hard, takes too much time, it’s not worth it.” So I have to turn to the word and remind myself that this is honoring to God for me to care for my body, His temple. And that is worth anything I have to give. It is my privilege to give up my life for His glory.
It is important to note the order in which things should be done. Love God first and foremost. Christ honoring actions follow. I think that we as Christians often try to impose our own rules for living on the world without first worrying about whether or not they apply. The bible was written for all people. Christ dies for all people, but the scriptures that address christian living….are for Christians. If someone is not a christian, we need to address the state of their heart rather than their actions.
Also, I don’t want anyone to get confused, you cannot truly love someone without knowing them, we get to know The Lord by reading His word and communicating with Him through prayer. Anyone who claims they love Him and are acting in a way that is contrary to scripture needs to spend some serious time in prayer and Bible study. I am not condoning some sort of personal interpretation of God. Now, that being said, I hope that you have found this to be encouraging and challenging, as always.
We will continue to implement new changes in our lives in an effort to better serve and honor God, and no doubt our family and friends will think we are crazy, but that too is ok. Today, I would encourage you to stop asking, “Do I have to?” And start loving God in any and every way possible. When you love God, you can do whatever you want….love God more!