Jesus tells us in John 13:34-35 that loving people is the way that the world will know that we are His disciples, that we genuinely love Him and long to be like Him. And in the book of I John (among other places), we are told that we do not truly love God if we do not also love those around us. This is why Jesus says that the second great commandment, to love our neighbor as ourselves, is “like” the first. They are very closely related.
In Matthew 22:39, Jesus tells us that the second greatest commandment is that we love other people “as we love ourselves.” For many followers of Jesus, our issue is typically not that we DON’T love others as we love ourselves, but that we DO. We just don’t love ourselves very well. Worse yet, in many cases we have become OK with our lack of self-love and have even convinced ourselves that it is biblical. The truth is, God has created each of us with value and purpose, and His desire is that we would learn to love ourselves in a biblical way!
Since growing in love for God is our priority, why do so many believers seem to struggle in that regard? Why do so many begin to doubt that their love for Jesus is real, becoming content to just “go through the motions” or even turning their backs on God completely? Stop wearing yourself out trying to manufacture that which you are incapable of producing. You will never impress God, so quit trying! But you can move His heart greatly by simply responding to what He desires to pour into yours – His boundless and unconditional love!
As with the natural progression of physical, mental, and emotional maturity, God has also created a process through which we mature spiritually, growing in love for God and those around us. The only place to start in our progression toward growing in love for God is at the beginning – understanding the incredible love that the Father has for us.