Almighty God, to whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
—Book of Common Prayer 1662 (translation)
What does it mean when we ask God to help us “that we may perfectly love Thee?” And, what impact does this request have on our daily walk of obedience with the God who loved us enough to send His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die on Calvary’s cruel cross in our behalf?
You see, that’s the point. God has literally poured out His love toward us. Scripture makes that crystal clear.
Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:8:
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God always makes the first move. He draws us irrestably into His love, mercy, and grace by the power of the Holy Spirit. At the beginning of human life on this earth, God gave mankind an opportunity to remain obedient in the Garden of Eden. In response, Adam chose to sin. That sin condemned all mankind to eternal death.
But, God’s love would not leave us in that dreadful state. He made provision to reconcile us to Himself through the precious blood of His Son. Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin. And, Jesus’ resurrection from the grave secured our eternal home in heaven once our life on this earth comes to an end.
Can you conceive of any response to the overwhelming love of God more appropriate than loving Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? No, of course not.
Even in this matter of loving God in return, He has not left us to flounder our way along without help.
Once again, the Holy Spirit enables us to love God with the sinless perfection that can only come by way of His cleansing. Moment by moment, day after day, as we yield our will to His, He sweeps away the natural, sinful evil that permeates our beings. As a result of such cleansing, we can now perfectly love God.
In Galatians 5:6b, Paul writes:
...The only thing that counts is faith expressing
itself through love.
We express our faith principally through love. Love for God and love for our fellow humans.
Several times in this series of blog posts, I have made reference to Jesus’ own words in Mark 12:28-31:
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Again, you can see how important love is to an obedient walk with God. The authors of the Book of Common Prayer have expressed a very critical truth. God desires our love as a fitting act of obedience and also as a fitting expression of our gratitude for His magnificent love for us.
I don’t know about you, but I take enormous comfort from knowing that He has already made provision to faithfully keep me on the pathway of obedience that He has laid out for me each day. And, I am quite certain that the best way to begin, and to end, my day with God is to simply speak these words to Him:
“I love you!”