When taking part in worship I often contemplate the meaning and theology of the songs the I sing. After all, as I worship our King, I want the words to be not only a true expression of my heart and acceptable in His ears but to also be backed up by how I live.
During a recent worship session we sang a song where we declared that, "I love you Lord", or something similar. What easy words to sing but what meaning do they really have? I turned to scripture to see what other examples there might be of people declaring their love for the Lord. And what I found confirmed what I was feeling in my spirit.
- Ps 18:1 - I will love thee, O LORD, my strength.
- Ps 116:1 - I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
- Joh 14:31 - I love the Father
Only one verse speaks of a person (other than Christ, Joh 14:31) voluntarily declaring their love for God in the present tense. If we ignore the tense then we get two verses (using a translation other than the KJV might give you a few more). Yes Peter declared that he loved the Lord but that was an awkward response to a direct question asked of the Lord.
- Joh 21:15,16,17 - thou knowest that I love thee
In short though it would appear that the saints of old were not given to readily declaring their love for the Lord in the same way that we do in our modern worship. In Psalm 119 however, David is quick to say that he loved God's commandments, His precepts, His testimonies etc.
Christ's response to Peter's answer that he loved Him is the key to this whole article; "feed". It was almost as if Christ was saying that it's not the talk but the walk that matters i.e. declarations prove nothing, actions are what count. This idea is further supported by the following verses.
- 1Jo 4:20 - If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar
- Joh 14:15,23 - If ye love me, keep my commandments
I suppose this is why David was quick declare his love for God's word because it revealed the will of his God, allowing him to declare his love to God through correct and acceptable service.
In closing, when I worship and praise my God in song may I like nature around me, and together with the saints who have gone before, declare His majesty and holiness. May my praise also confess my need of Him and thankfulness for all that He has done for me. This does not mean that it's wrong to tell the Lord, in song or other wise, that I love Him, but when it comes to doing so, may my main declaration be through serving Him.
Response from a friend of mine:
You may be putting too fine a point on it. Loving the Lord remains the first command. Yes, many people say they love Him but that is only with their lips (1John). But that should not stop us from declaring that we love Him. The author seems to try to minimize the question in John 21, yet at the end of the day, the question “do you love me?” remains the preeminent question. Note the Ephesians who had left their first love etc.
If we should not (or be hesitant to) sing choruses that declare our love for the Lord, because it is only talk, well then we should not be singing most other songs which have not been proven to be 100% true in our lives (It is well with my soul, I surrender all etc).
While folk must be taught to be discerning about what they sing etc, we need to be careful to not rob worship and praise of its spontaneity so that all the time we sing, we are wondering if it is correct to be singing this, or when we pray we become so tongue-tied because we want to dot the I’s and cross the T’s in our theology. For example it is right to teach folk to pray to the Father in the name of the Son, but press that too hard and folk stop praying or pray with hesitation because they don’t want to pray to Jesus by accident."
And I fully concur. I suppose the bottom-line message that was on my heart was that while we declare our love for our Lord, let us make sure that we are actually loving Him.