Learning how to love is not only essential for spiritual maturity, it is central to overcoming deep-seated psychological problems as well. Dr. Larry Crabb argues that every psychological and emotional problem experienced by human beings ultimately results from violations of the commandment to love (Inside Out, 1988, 43).

The problem is that most of our modern solutions to ancient human problems all come down to the same bottom line: TRY HARDER. This strategy is easier for us to get our hands around because, after all, it is about us and we understand that subject a lot better than we understand much of anything else.

For this reason, most Bible teaching follows the same pattern: instruction about the content of the Bible followed by exhortations (and pulpit pounding) about living consistently with that teaching. Knowledge followed by obedience. Learn more and do right. The trouble with this approach is that while it might manipulate some into external conformity it fails to draw us more deeply into loving relationship. Shame, guilt, and manipulation are very poor motivators. 

The key to our redemption is rooted in our utter dependence upon God. Jesus makes it abundantly clear that doing right in his eyes requires much more than merely performing certain external behaviors. The goal of the cross is not individual or even communal compliance with a set of behavioral regulations; the goal of the cross is to provoke human beings to love God and to love others.

But before we can love God we must learn to trust God. In order to trust God we must believe God. In order to believe God we must experience God. Try living for Him and see if His ways are true or not. Repudiate your self-centeredness, put your ego to death, and try loving Him. Give yourself in sacrificial, loving service to others and see what happens to your life—“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” 

The key to a successful and fulfilling life does not require more white-knuckled effort on your part. It requires more surrender. It involves more dependence upon the love of God.