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Weekly Wisdoms for the week of June 26, 2017

Love God and do as you please.

St. Augustine, an influential Christian author of the fourth century A.D., wrote this: "Love God and do as you please." On the surface, that may seem like a license for sin—"As long as I love God, I can do anything I want, and God's okay with whatever I do."

But Augustine seemed to realize that if you genuinely love God, then you will want to do what honors him most. Just as a married woman who loves her husband will want to make him look good, lift him up, and honor him, so also a person who loves God will want to glorify, magnify, and honor him. If you truly love God, then his Holy Spirit will transform you such that what pleases God will become what pleases you.

Jesus, who is God, made this observation: "If you love me, you will obey what I command" (John 14:15). Similarly, the Apostle John wrote, "This is love for God: to obey his commands" (1 John 5:3). And finally, the Psalmist wrote, "I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly" (Psalm 119:167).

When we love God, then we want to obey him; obeying him becomes a sign that we love him. Jesus linked love for God with obeying the commandments (i.e., with obeying God's law) in this way: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:37-40).

If you love God, then his Holy Spirit, who dwells in you, will conform you—all of you, including your desires—into the image of his Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). In this way, what pleases you and what pleases God become one and the same such that if you love God, you can do whatever pleases you and God will be pleased.

True worship should create God-intoxicated people.

Everyone worships. Some people worship money, possessions, popularity, prosperity, or other people. They may not sing worship songs to their bank account, but by the way they live they worship (i.e. give value to) their money.

Worship is not just singing songs in church; worship is a lifestyle that places value on its object. True worship of God means that the one worshiping is placing value on God and putting him at the center of life.

That's what Jesus was getting at when he said, "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:23-24)

Notice Jesus didn't say anything about singing "worship songs." To worship in spirit and in truth means that everything in your life is centered around God and guided by him -- that your choices reflect him, that your actions are directed by him, and that you words are filtered through him.

In short, true worship is such that the one worshipping should be so enveloped and surrounded in the presence (the spirit) of God.

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