Where does love come from? The question may seem too philosophical for some people, but it is a legitimate question. Especially for a Christian, the question is essential because the most important commandments we have received are “Love the Lord your God” and “Love your neighbor” (Matt. 22:34-40). Those commandments alone make love a priority for Christians. So how do we get it? Where does it come from? Maybe you love God truly and faithfully but would like to love Him more. Maybe you know you should love Him but simply cannot seem to “work it up”. Maybe you desire to love other people more but struggle to know how to do that. If any of those are true of you, I pray that you would consider this truth: Love – at its core – is the natural human response to what we believe is most valuable.
Consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19-23 – “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
Jesus is telling us how we should live our lives. Instead of spending our time and energy hoarding up things that will matter only in this life, He calls us to spend it hoarding up things that will matter in the next life. Instead of working so hard for things that will one day cease to exist, He calls us to work for that which will never be lost.
But notice verse 21: the reason (“for”) Jesus tells us to do this is because the location of our treasure will determine the location of our heart. Put simply: the way we are spending our time and energy and resources will – to some degree – determine what we love. This makes sense: the thing that I think about and pursue and spend the most time on will inevitably reveal (and reinforce) what I care about most.
Jesus’ next words – though somewhat difficult to understand – drive the point home. In speaking about our “eye”, Jesus is speaking about the way we see – though not with our literal, physical eyes but figuratively – with the “eyes” of our heart. He is talking about the way we see the world. In your “view” of the world, what is most valuable? In your view, what is most worthwhile? The answer might be financial security, pleasure, safety, or fame. Whatever your answer, it will determine the location of your treasure – which will shape your love.
And here is the key truth: it is possible for the way we “see” with our “eye” to be either “healthy” or “bad”. All options and choices and objects are not equally valid. There is a right way and a wrong way to “view” the world. And it matters immensely whether you get this right. If your “eye” is “bad” – that is, if you see the world wrongly and determine that the wrong things are most important – then your whole body will be full of darkness. But if your “eye” is “good” and you see the world rightly and see the right things as most important, then your whole body will be full of light.
So putting all this together: the things we love are determined by the value we see in them. Without exception, we will always pursue and desire the things we find most valuable. But we should be careful: it is possible for us to be terribly wrong about what is most desirable and valuable. In fact, because of sin, it is certain that we come into the world with a horribly mistaken gauge for what is most valuable. Every human being enters the world blinded by the god of this world so that we cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4). This causes us to exchange the glory of God for lesser glories – and deceive ourselves into thinking that we have not “traded down” (Rom.1:21-23). By nature, we follow the passions and desires of our flesh and are objects of wrath because of it (Eph. 2:1-3). The natural man follows desires that are “corrupt” because they are “deceitful” – that is, not in line with reality (Eph. 4:22).
But the power of God is seen in the fact that He can change this wretched state. He takes those who were blinded by Satan and causes them to see the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). He takes those who were dead in their sin and following their own desires, and He makes them alive with Christ (Eph. 2:4-7). He takes those who were trapped by their deceitful desires and makes them new creatures and begins transforming them to be like His Son (Rom. 8:29). Part of the glory of salvation is that God gives us the ability to “see” rightly. He helps us understand what is truly valuable so that we will desire that instead of pursuing the treasures of this life.
This we must remember, though: transformation is a process. Even as God’s people, it is possible to deceive ourselves and continue pursuing things of lesser value because we place too much value on them. It is possible – even as one who has seen the glory of Christ – to follow the “value system” of the world and act like money or safety or fame or pleasure is more valuable than Him. That is the reason we must “listen” to the right voices. The Bible has been given to tell us what is true and what is valuable. The world tries to tell us that as well. We must choose the one to whom we will listen. It makes all the difference in the world.
You will love what you find most valuable and desirable. Is the thing you find most valuable actually most valuable? Or will you reach the end and find you spent your life on a cheap imitation of real value? Is your eye healthy or bad? Are you seeing rightly? Consider it, because it makes all the difference in the world.