The other day I was flipping through books on my shelf that I had already read. One of the books I perused through was Whatever Happened to Worship by A. W. Tozer. As I re-examined the many sections I had underlined I was struck by a thought that Tozer had borrowed from Dr. George Watson.
"Men can have two kinds of love for God: the love of gratitude and the love of excellence."
The love of gratitude is not a bad thing. I mean, I posted a song called "Jesus, Thank You" yesterday, so I'm obviously very much in favor of having the love of gratitude for God. The love of gratitude is not a bad thing, it is a necessary, good and obvious thing for believers to have. How could I not be eternally grateful to my Savior for what He did for me while I was His enemy? My love for God based in gratitude is not a bad love but it's not the best love.
The love for God that is based in the love of excellence is something that I need to continually pursue. This is the love of God that is in love with Him because of His many perfect attributes. This is being in love with His: omnipresence, holiness, omnipotence, mercy, omniscience, justice, wisdom, graciousness, infiniteness, self-existence, goodness, love, sovereignty, immutability, etc. This type of love loves God because of who He is not just what He has done.
We know this is the better love. Think of it this way... I love my wife most because of what she does for me or I love my wife most because of who she is. Which is the greater, deeper love? Obviously, the love for who she is is the greater love. It is the same with God.
So, how do we practice this?
First, we don't pursue the love of excellence by downplaying the love of gratitude. This is not a zero-sum game. I don't rob Peter to pay Paul. I can increase the size of the love pie, so to speak, that I have for God. That being said, how do we do this? I have just a few ideas.
1) Search for songs that praise God for who He is not just what He's done. Then listen to them worshipfully. Examples: "Holy, Holy, Holy", "O Lord, You're Beautiful", "Beautiful One", "Behold Our God", etc. You can comment with more ideas if you think of them.
2) Meditate on verses about God's glorious attributes. Read Jeremiah 32:17, Psalm 139:7, 1 John 3:20, Romans 11:33, Psalm 119:8, etc.
3) Read books that explore the attributes of God. Read The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer and Knowing God by J. I. Packer they will change your life for the better as they open your mind to this amazing way of loving God.
4) Be undistracted in nature. "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands." Psalm 19:1
5) Think about who God is in comparison to you. If this doesn't give you a healthy fear of God, I don't know what will. And the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
In conclusion, thank God for all that He has done for you, but don't stop there. Fall in love with who God is because this is the truest worship. Pursue a love for God that is rooted in the love of excellence today.