Talking to a friend the other day they were frustrated with their walk as a Christian. They were telling me they felt like a hypocrite. They were tired of telling people that they needed to love God with all their heart, soul, and body, when they themselves didn’t love God the way they felt they should. They were tired of teaching that we are to love one another when they didn’t love others they way they felt they should. They were saying, “I know I’m to love people and do to them how I would want them to do to me, but sometimes when the phone rings and someone needs help, I don’t want to answer it. I just want to go off by myself, away from everyone else.” They wanted to give up on ministering to others because they didn’t want to be a hypocrite. Now I know this person and they love the Lord tremendously and give themselves to others, but why was something wrong. And as I asked God for wisdom, I knew His answer was as much for me as for my friend.
The problem was that my friend was trying to live up to an expectation of how much they should love God. Now loving God is a good thing but when you use how much you love God to measure your relationship with Him, then you are going back under the law. And under the law there is never freedom, only bondage and condemnation. Anything that points to your ability or focuses on you in any way is works and the law which brings death. We are called to live under grace which produces life. You see our spiritual maturity and health is not based on how much we love God but is dependent on the knowledge of how much He loves us. When we walk in the assurance of His love for us we will be able to overcome every obstacle, and endure every challenge, but when our relationship is based on how much we love God we will not stand and when challenges come (and they will) we will fall and possibly even deny Him.
In John chapter 13 we get a picture of these two forms. On one side we see John reclining against Jesus declaring that he is the one Jesus loves. On the other side we see Peter not allowing Jesus to serve him because works serves God, and declaring that he would lay down his life for Jesus. When it was all over Peter who declared his ability and his love for Jesus denied Him three times, while John who rested on the fact that Jesus loved him, was standing at the cross before Jesus and agreeing to take care of His mother.
So here is the answer. My friend, we need to quit basing our spiritual life and health on our love for God. That will only bring frustration and condemnation. We need to rest in the knowledge of His tremendous love for us. He has given us the most precious treasure of heaven – Jesus. He will freely give us all things and withhold no good thing. When we minister to someone we have His love for them as an assurance that He will withhold no healing or miracle from them. We don’t minister just out of our love but out of His love. We love because He first loved us. You are not a hypocrite if you operate out of His love instead of relying on your ability to love.