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Mature in Loving as Christ Loves

Does the heart want what God wants?

by Andy Davis on April 02, 2024

"The most important commandment," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'” Mark 12:29-30  
"You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy." Hebrews 1:9  


Maturing Christians develop a heart that loves what Christ loves and hates what Christ hates. Christian maturity is a matter of the heart. It is not an outward show devoid of inner reality. It is not putting another coat of whitewash over a tomb of stinking corpses. It is true to the core. And therein lies the challenge of genuine Christian growth. For while we can accept the concept of justification (positional righteousness) by faith alone, we know that sanctification is a matter of matching the reality with what God has declared about us. God says, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), and there IS light. God says, “Let him (her) be holy,” and there IS holiness… actual, real conformity to Christ! And it all starts with the heart, what the Bible reveals as the core of our very being. But the Bible reveals that the heart of man is treacherous and dark, desperately so… “Who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:9)? How then can we see our core nature be actually transformed to that of Christ’s?

It begins with regeneration, with being made new by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a change so radical that Jesus calls it being “born again” (John 3:7). Ezekiel likens it to having our heart of stone removed and a heart of flesh put in its place—from death to life in the core of our being. And while that happens instantaneously at conversion, we know that the heart’s habits are still a matter of gradual change by obedience to the word of God and by the power of the Spirit. The central attribute of the heart’s new life must be love. What is love? It is likened to a magnet in its powerful attractions or repulsions. Take two powerful bar magnets with poles stamped into the iron— “N” and “S.” Put the N of one near the S of the other and you can feel an invisible force of attraction start to act, powerfully pulling the two together. Reverse one of them and put the N near the other N and you can feel just as powerfully the force of repulsion. The mystery of magnetism!

"The central attribute of the heart’s new life must be love."

So it is with the heart and its power to love and to hate. Love is an inner attraction of the heart toward something; hatred is an inner repulsion of the heart away from something. Our hearts do this all the time about everything we learn about in the universe. Christian maturity is more and more loving what Christ loves and hating what Christ hates. And this should be a matter of degree. Just as some magnets are stronger than others, so our heart attraction to God—Father, Son, and Spirit—should be the strongest love we have. If our heart has a stronger pull toward any created thing in the universe, that thing is an idol! So, we learn to kill idolatrous loves and to feed holy loves. Our love for Christ is too weak; we plead with God to make it stronger. Our love for other Christians is similarly too weak; we plead in the same way to make that stronger as well. Conversely, we know we should hate wickedness with the pure passion that Christ does. We learn in sanctification how weak our hatred of sin is and how much more powerful it should become.

The great good news of the gospel is that God will finally and perfectly conform us to Christ’s heart when we are glorified. And we will spend eternity in heaven loving what Christ loves in the way he loves it and hating what Christ hates in the way he hates it. Oh, how we should yearn for that day! 

Tags: love, neighbor, internal journey, growth