If we are serious about growing or excelling in our love for God, we must first come to truly appreciate the love God has for us.

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins”…1 John 4:10

These words from John remind us that love originated with God when He chose to love us first. He demonstrated that love in the greatest way by sending His one and only Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

The Greek word for propitiation is “hilasmos” which means atoning sacrifice, or an offering to appease or satisfy an angry, offended party. The fact that God would send His Son to be the offering to appease His wrath speaks to the extent of the love He has for us. The apostle Paul put it like this in Romans 5:8,

…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Although none of us could ever repay that kind of love, we can accept it and we can live with thankfulness for it. Gratitude brings a strong desire to please our God, but it also can bring about a deeper trust in God and a commitment to keep His commands. John says in 1 John 5:3,

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome”

As we grow in our understanding of God’s love, our love for Him grows and so will our desire to please Him and keep His commandments. Loving God and obeying God are choices we get to make because we are thankful, He has chosen to love us. But a deeper love and trust in God doesn’t come automatically and it doesn’t come to everyone. It only comes to those who are willing to study God’s word to get to truly know Him.

Too often God’s word can be read just to gain knowledge of facts, but when our study leads us to a deeper understanding of Him, our love for Him also deepens and we come to see that instead of a burden, His commands are very beneficial and what’s best for our lives.

David is one example of someone who had come to know His God and was thankful for His God. One thing we can learn from David is that to know God, is to love God. In Psalm 63:1 David prays these words,

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

There are three phrases at the beginning of this prayer that point to the fact that David knows and loves His God.

You are MY God First of all, David says O God, you are my Godand he uses 2 different names to refer to God in the first 5 words of this prayer: ‘Elohim’ and ‘El’ which both refer to God’s divine majesty and power. Because David knew His God, he understood His power and might, but He also understood this mighty God, the God of all creation, was His God! What an amazing reality to know that we as children of the Almighty God of creation, can also say with great confidence and gratitude, “O God, you are my God!”

I seek you Secondly, he says, I seek you.” David didn’t seem to take his relationship with God for granted. No matter what happened in his life, his main purpose was to pursue His God. He wasn’t satisfied with just going through life knowing of God, he wanted to know God on a deeper level. He wanted to be with God and dwell in His presence. Through diligent study of God’s word, we too can seek after our God and come to know and trust Him on a deeper level.

My soul thirsts for you Finally, he says, “My soul thirsts for you.” David had a longing for God and pursued God because of a spiritual thirst in his heart. He thirsted for God much like a dry and weary desert land thirsts for moisture. There was nothing that could quench that thirst except a deeper relationship with His God. David knew he wanted to be near God and that he didn’t want to live this life without Him.

Excelling in our love for God begins with us coming to know and better understand God’s love and His power. The more we appreciate that love and power, the more we will seek Him and thirst for Him and the more our hearts will be filled with thankfulness and joy that He is our God!

To God Be the Glory!

Excel Still More


1 https://biblehub.com/Helps Word-studies

2 https://biblehub.com/Helps Word-studies

Billy Clabaugh
Author | + posts

Billy, his wife Shayla, and their son Caleb live in Sayre, Oklahoma where he has been blessed to preach since 2012. He has a bachelor’s degree in Math Education from Oklahoma Christian University and a master’s degree in Sports Administration from Eastern New Mexico University. He enjoys reading, watching the Oklahoma Sooners, spending time with his family, and serving in the Kingdom of God.  Billy also serves on the board of directors for Excel Still More and is a regular speaker and writer for the workshop and other publications.