Why do you love God?
Our adversary, the Devil, is very interested in how you answer this question. If you answer by primarily listing what God has given you and/or provided for you, then he is halfway to getting you to curse God. Satan prowls around like a roaring lion looking to devour people (1 Peter 5:8) who answer the question this way.
The Great Test
The book of Job is book filled with the trials and afflictions of one man. It begins with Satan entering the courts of Heaven and God asks him, “From where have you come?” Satan answers, “From going to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it.” The LORD says to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” In other words, have you come across Job, one of my righteous ones on the earth? Satan’s response is classic, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” Satan’s retort to God is: of course he loves You, he’s living the good life.
The book centers around a wager. Satan’s basic premise: Job only loves and serves God because God has blessed him. If God were to remove His blessing and favor, and lay afflictions on him, Job would curse and reject God. The central question of Job: Does man love God for God or for what God gives him? It is the central question of our lives as well. Why do you love God?
Satan is hedging his bets that, if afflicted, Job will turn away from God. God gives Satan permission to strike against Job’s family and possessions. Job is stricken, but does not turn away from God. Satan then tells the LORD if Job were personally afflicted, he would certainly curse God (Job 2). God draws the line again and gives Satan permission to strike him, but doesn’t allow him to kill Job. Satan proceeds.
Job’s wife is devastated and disillusioned by the calamities. She’s ready to bail on God. She’s exasperated that Job isn’t, “Curse God and die.” Job’s response to her was, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In other words, he trusted God’s wisdom in determining what to allow or not allow in his life. Despite the pain and afflictions, and despite the sorrow that came with them, Job’s devotion to the LORD was not contingent upon the gifts of God, but God Himself. Job loved God for God, not for what God could give.
The book of Job answers the question in Job’s life, but seeks to reveal the answer for ours: God is worthy of our love and devotion, not for what He gives, but for who He is.
What About You?
It may seem like splitting hairs, but it is not a trivial issue. When we primarily love God for what God gives us, we open ourselves up to be disillusioned when those things are removed from us. If the basis of our love are the gifts He gives, we will be angered at the Giver when those gifts are taken from our hands. Satan is banking on this. He is convinced God is not lovable in and of Himself. He is confident that if he strikes our lives we will curse God to His face. And many do.
Afflictions are real and burdensome. Pain and sorrow are a regular accompaniment of this life. The Bible paints no illusions of utopia on this of eternity. But God has promised a day in which all things will be put to rights. He is making all things new. Job trusted God through his afflictions. We can too. Our suffering is not arbitrary. God is at work in our lives constantly, even in our suffering. As Joseph told his brothers, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.” The same is true in our lives.
Love God for God. Be thankful for what He gives, but do not love Him primarily for what He gives, because He is God, and He can take away. But whether He gives or takes away, we say with Job, “Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
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**image by Evan Dennis (evan__bray) on Unsplash**