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Weekly Wisdoms for the week of September 20, 2021

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.

You stand tallest on your knees.

Prayer is powerful. In Matthew 7:7-8, Jesus said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

When a child asks his or her parents for something, they will usually do almost anything just to answer the child's request. For example, if a baby starts crying for food, a good parent will drop everything in order to feed the little child.

When you ask your parents for something, they will probably be quite eager to help you. The Bible says that God is our heavenly Father—the best possible father. So, how much more do you think God is looking to answer your prayers?

Therefore, if you need to hear from God, "ask and it will be given to you."

James 5:16 says that "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." Then, James gives an example of the power of prayer: "Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops" (James 5:17-18). That's amazing power. But what gave Elijah such power? Prayer.

It is no wonder that in Matthew 21:21, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done."

Prayer is powerful. When you have unwavering faith in God, He will answer your prayers. That's why you stand tallest on your knees.