You must love God and your neighbor, but only one can give birth to the other. Do you recall that the command to love God with all one’s heart, mind, soul, and strength was the command that drove Martin Luther to hate God? It was a command that he could not meet, and the righteous standard of God nearly drove him mad. You are like Luther. Love is something beyond your ability as well, yet the command remains.
The reality is that you only love God because he loved you first. He loved you before you were born and chose you for himself. His love for you secured your salvation, and because you have experienced his life-redeeming love you love him in return.
But for love to continue and grow, and for you to love the unlovable, it is important that you meditate on the gospel. Get this – you only know what love really is by looking to your Savior. And we learn it from him continually, not just once. You must daily go to the cross and see your Savior’s love for the unlovable (that means you).
You must learn, relearn, and remember your Savior’s love and sacrifice for the wicked, the rebellious, the black-hearted – for people like you. And when you see the Holy One’s sacrificial love for you, you not only see what love looks like, but also you find strength and power to love like him.
Taken from “Part One: The Gospel and God” in Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn (Crossway, 2011), p.36.