One of the key concepts of Christianity is loving God.

How does the bible define "loving God", and importantly, how to develop a deep love for God?

closed as too broad by Lee Woofenden, Nathaniel, curiousdannii, Matt Gutting, Andrew Jul 3 '16 at 23:31

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I think Scripture answers this very clearly, in the Gospel of John:

John 14:21 (RSV)

He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.

and, again, a few verses later:

John 14:23 (RSV)

If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

Russian Orthodox spiritual writer Ignatius Brianchaninov emphasizes the importants of studying and keeping the commandments of the Gospel. He reminds his readers that the "Great Commission" is not only in baptizing, but equally in teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you [Matthew 28:20]. He further writes:

[The Lord promises] that the person who fulfills the commandments of the Gospel will not only be saved but will also enter into the most intimate union with God and become a divinely built temple of God. The Lord said: He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him

From these words of the Lord it is evident that the commandments of the Gospel must be so studied that they become the possession, the property of the mind; only then is the exact, constant fulfillment of them possible such as the Lord requires. The Lord reveals Himself spiritually to the doer of the commandments, and He is seen with the spiritual eye, with the mind. The person sees the Lord in himself, in his thoughts and feelings transfigured by the Holy Spirit.

The Arena, p. 4

  • Another good explicit statement of what you're saying in this answer is 1 John 5:3. I like this answer, but I'd also like to see you add that Scripture closely associates love more generally (not just love for God) with selflessness and self-sacrifice, even going so far to define it that way and stating that the only way we understand what real love looks like is through the sacrifice of Jesus (1 John 3:16; 4:9-10). – Justin Jul 1 '16 at 13:26
  • 1
    @Justin, thank you for your comment. Good points. I chose the texts I did because they seem to be very direct answers to the OP question by the Lord Himself, but I certainly didn't mean to imply that there are no other Scriptures that are helpful. – user22553 Jul 1 '16 at 14:37
  • I would appreciate any feedback from whoever voted down my answer. Thanks. – user22553 Jul 20 '16 at 22:10

How does the bible define "loving God", and importantly, how to develop a deep love for God?

It is probably best to start with the Biblical definition of love;

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

We can see as theme of selflessness that comes through in this description of love such that more love would equate to less “self”.

This picture is also represented in the transition from the flesh to the Spirit described in Galatians;

Galatians 5:16-17 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would.

It is also consistent with the picture of us maturing in faith with the ultimate goal of Christ-likeness;

Ephesians 4:11-13 And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

We see the ultimate example of selflessness in love with Jesus;

Philippians 2:5-8 Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.

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