Do You Love Me?
About This Booklet
Booklet 2 of 6 in the Loving God series. In this teaching, Martha reveals the many competitors to loving God as well as the unfathomable Love that exposes them.
God asks all of us, “Do you love Me?”
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind…and your neighbor as yourself.
Luke 10:27-28 NASB
The central issue of all of life is loving God, yet none of us is capable of loving Him. That is the truth! Yet we should never despair because our failure to love God is His to solve. And He will, if we’ll just let Him!
“Life is a mystery, and we ask questions of life… But I tell you this, life asks some piercing questions of you. Life asks us a major question that we don’t recognize, because we don’t understand that LOVE is the meaning of the universe.
“The Scripture says about God that He IS love. Love is His very nature, identity, essence, character—so love is His standard, motive, thought, expression…and aim! Love was the beginning of it all and love is the meaning of it all. Love is the purpose for it all and love is the culmination of it all. Love will be the end of it all!
“And the sole question life asks you in all of its circumstances is this: Who do you love? What do you love? Whose love do you love?“
In Do You Love Me?, Martha reveals the many competitors to loving God as well as the unfathomable Love that exposes them—a picture of the wondrous adventure of loving God by first experiencing His great love for us!
“The basis of human love is self-love. We love in order to GET. God’s love gives without any expectation of return.”
Life is a mystery—we ask questions of life. But I tell you this, life asks some piercing questions of you. Life asks us a major question that we don’t recognize, because we don’t understand that love is the meaning of the universe.
The Scripture says about God that He IS love. Love is His very nature, identity, essence, character, so love is His standard, motive, thought, expression…and aim! Love was the beginning of it all and love is the meaning of it all.
Love is the purpose for it all and love is the culmination of it all.
Love will be the end of it all! And the sole question life asks you in all of its circumstances is this: Who do you love? What do you love? And whose love do you love? You do already love. The question is who do you love? And whose love do you love? God’s one desire is that you should love…Him.
Gene Edwards has written a great allegory called The Divine Romance. This book has become a Christian classic. The story shows different people wanting to relate to God.
“Among one family of the tribe of Levi, there occurred this conversation: One family member of the tribe of Levi wants to serve God. Another couple wants to give silver and gold to Him. One wants passionately and fervently to pray for God’s will. A psalmist wants to make music with cymbals to worship. Another focuses on obedience.”
The sequence concludes this way:
“By nightfall the rock upon which Moses had spoken was vacant, except for one lone Figure. Unobserved by all, He had been there listening – listening to Moses recount to the people His own message to them. Afterward He had walked among his people listening intently to their every word.”
“A deep sadness now disturbed the face of the Lord, for He was contemplating the response which He had heard from His people… A long deep groan of sorrow, unheard by human ears but shattering the tranquility of the entire heavenly host, rose up from His depths.”
“‘I did not require of you your wealth. What need have I of these? I did not ask of you your service. Do I, the Mighty One, need to be waited upon? Neither did I ask of you your worship nor your prayers nor even your obedience.’”
“He paused. Once more a long, mournful groan rose from his breast. ‘I have asked but this of you, that you love Me… love Me… love Me.’”
Deuteronomy 13:3 NASB
“The Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
He is testing you…asking, “Do you love Me?” He knows what you love, who you love, and whose love you love. The Lord God has the right test you and the question is not how good you are, how smart you are, how accomplished you are, how efficient you are. The question is: Who do you love? And what do you love? And whose love do you love?
Our life will be measured, not so much by how many we won to the Lord, but by the depth and breadth and quality of the love we possess—that is to say, how much of God’s love we have experienced.
In the end all of us, including Christians, will give an accounting. And I believe the Scripture is clear that accounting will be based on the issue of love.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NASB
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
“If I have the gift of prophesy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
“And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
You see, this is a list of all the activities of the Christian life: truth, prophesy, faith, giving, words. Even laying down your life.
- Words: “speak with the tongues of men and of angels…”
- Ministry: “the gift of prophesy…”
- Knowledge: “knowledge of mysteries…”
- Faith: “faith to remove mountains…”
- Giving: “give my possessions to the poor…”
- Sacrifice: “surrender my body to be burned…”
I can do and have all of this but if I do not have love, I am nothing, I have nothing and I gain nothing. What I know and do and speak and give, counts for nothing. I am only emptiness. I have spent my life in futility. The Amplified Bible renders it this way: “If I have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody).”
So the whole issue, the whole purpose, the whole reason for all of mankind – the reason for you – is love. The reason for your life is love.
The reason for living life is to learn to love—to receive the love of God so that you finally can love.
Life is all about love and that is all it is about. I marvel that nobody told me that was the issue, but it is. All we choose and do, all we say and focus on, everything we are and do exposes what we love.
I have learned painfully that most of what we see as love is not love. Human love is actually, down at its most base level, only self love. If you don’t know that yet, you will, if you walk with the Lord.
A young mother told me this week that she discovered she had never loved anybody in her life and she wasn’t an unlovable, unloving person. She had several children she adored. Yet God had brought her to see that she had never loved anyone. By that I mean, she had never loved anyone truly.
The basis of human love is self-love. You love in order to GET.
You give love to get love. You give approval to get approval. You give a kiss to get a kiss. You give a hug to get a hug. But God’s kind of love in Luke 6 says (paraphrased): “Lend without expecting anything in return. Love your enemies. Do good to them who spitefully use you” (v. 27-30).
God’s love gives without any expectation of return. God has loved millions of people
who never returned it to Him.
I learned painfully that all that claimed to be good in human love, wasn’t. It was self-love. It was a surprise to me to discover that people might say they loved me, but they would not love me for me. They would love me for themselves.
So human love has its emptiness…
The central issue of all life is loving God and receiving His love. The great test of life is the discovery of what you love.
The Lord Jesus Christ touched me in my teen years. My Bible was underlined and with my church friends, we ‘witnessed’ for the Lord. But in my adult years I met the ‘prince’ I wanted to marry. I got on my knees and asked God for him, and God gave me the man I loved. I asked God for a house I loved and He gave the house I loved. Then I prayed for children and after five years, God answered my prayer and gave me children I loved.
God didn’t deny me anything I loved!
I should have been completely fulfilled. I had everything for which I had prayed. There were no problems in my life…except for me!
I was the only problem. I was empty and frustrated, and I found out what I loved: ME. With three children under 3, I loved my sleep at night and I didn’t have it. I loved my freedom and my blessings took my liberty! The amount of work I had to do was staggering. I loved my ease!
But beyond the things of real life and the ‘wretched me,’ there was another problem: I knew something was missing that no blessing and no joy in this life could provide. Somehow I deeply knew that you could have made me Queen of England and that would never be enough for me. And I chided myself: “Fool! You have it all, more than most. What would it take to make you happy?!”
The very richness of my life condemned me. I was irritable, angry, and deeply despondent. I knew I was not the person I should have been, but at the same time, I couldn’t be the person I wanted to be.
I had created a beautiful yellow and peach nursery. I remember vividly standing at the window of that nursery, just sobbing and crying. I looked at the green woods outside that window and cried out, “Oh God, if You are there, help me!” There was only a silence that felt empty. Little did I imagine how very full that silence was, filled with God’s very present seeking me as I sought Him!
I didn’t know the word repentance but that was my condition. I was repenting – not just of sins – but of who I was and who I could not be. I was a poor mother. Yes! No excuse. I was a miserable person. Yes! No excuse.
Somehow the God I knew as a teenager was not enough. I had to have an adult faith and I felt that it all hinged on Jesus Christ. He was either who He claimed to be or life was meaningless and you just endured until you died.
The only hope for me was Jesus but I couldn’t find Him. I didn’t know anyone who knew Him as the sole solution to life. I listened raptly to the Episcopal priest and in my state of raw candor, I knew that even he did not know God. He never mentioned the name of Jesus though I waited and listened for just that Name. Just the mention of that Name!
The more I faced the harsh realities about me, the more hopeless I became. I didn’t know Biblical words like repentance. I had no idea that my sorrow and desperation were the very
pressure of God. As I look back on it, and this is very strange, but I believed then that if a person knew God truly, there would be a glow on his or her face. So I looked in my church friends’ faces for that glow. I would search each face intently, because I knew that if I ever met a person who knew Jesus Christ, I would know it by their countenance.
It seemed perfectly real to me that there would be a glow. I had never heard of such a thing but it was my certainty. I never imagined how closely God was guiding my steps and even my thoughts, my questions, and my heart’s longing.
Continually, I was facing God with who I was and who I was not. And finally there came to me a verse, clear and constant: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” The verse didn’t come from sermons I was hearing or anything I was reading. Yet it was as if it were written in the air. I couldn’t escape it. It was everywhere I turned!
Deuteronomy 6:5 KJV
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
And that threw me into even deeper despair. Before it had been desperation, now my situation seemed hopeless! “Well, if that’s what You require, God, then I am really a failure. I don’t love You and I don’t know how to love You. I am not even sure You really exist. And furthermore, I don’t think You are fair to ask us to love You when we can’t even know You!” The only thing He required was the one thing I couldn’t give Him. I would just have to give up…
You see, God had asked me the question, “Do you love Me?” and I had answered truthfully. I didn’t know that I had plumbed the depths of true sin, which is the failure to love God. I also had no clue that God gives you the love He requires of you. I never dreamed that with this blank answer, “No, I don’t love you,” God was pleased. Just because it was the truth…
Finally, I took out my New English Bible (the one I took to church but didn’t open) and I began to read, expecting nothing. I read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—and then I would begin again. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I read for hours. Between feedings and folding diapers, in every spare moment, I read about Jesus.
And it was as if Jesus Christ Himself rose out of those stories and made Himself real to me. Not an idea, not a historical or even a divine figure of long ago—He was a Person, magnificent, fascinating and very present with me. He was God! He really was Who He claimed to be… And I fell absolutely in love with Him.
I talked to Him day and night. I didn’t know how to pray. I just talked to Him about everything. I often wept with love for Him. That love for God which had recently been impossible now came so easily…as my life and every breath. He was my vivid companion. It was perfectly natural to hear Him speak.
He was alive! Of course He would talk to me and I, to Him! As I read about the disciples, I considered that what they did, I should do. I was His disciple, too! And I found Jesus to be all I wanted Him to be and more: the entire meaning of life, the total fulfillment of existence.
You see, God had asked me the ultimate question. Please bear with me as I repeat it to you—the ultimate question is not: Have you failed? Are you angry? What kind of mother/father are you? Are you a success? Are you smart? Those are not the ultimate questions of your existence. The one and only question was: “Do you love Me?” And my answer had been a resounding, “No!”
There was nothing in me that loved God until God unveiled His Son to me. Then…I couldn’t help but love Him. I was captured!
I didn’t know about Christian bookstores. I had no knowledge of true church fellowship. Still I knew no one who ‘glowed’ or spoke of Him. But I had complete fulfillment. I lacked nothing—because the Lord Jesus was everything, and as a person, I was utterly changed.