The Holy Prophet(saw) has said, "If anyone gives something to someone else for the sake of Allah, forbids something to someone for Allah, loves someone for the sake of Allah and hates someone for the sake of Allah, then he will have perfected his faith." (Tirmizi, Sifat ul Qiyamah, Chapter 61)
"What is worldly from one angle becomes religious when seen from another angle."
Turn every love for Allah
There is a form of love in the life of every man. There is love between mother and child, father and child, husband and wife, etc. There is fraternal love and love between relatives. If the angle of view is aligned properly, these forms of love can be described as love for the sake of Allah. For instance, if anyone heeds the directive of Allah and His Messenger (saw) that one should love their parents then their love for their father and mother is regarded as love for the sake of Allah. We are told that if anyone casts even a glance towards his parents with love, they are regarded as though they have performed a Hajj and an Umrah. On the face of it, the person fulfills their natural tendencies in loving their parents but with proper alignment of their intention, they are credited with doing that for the sake of Allah.
Let a husband love his wife for the sake of Allah
A man's love for his wife is a part of his sexual instincts. However, he can gain credit for loving her for the sake of Allah if he forms an intention of obeying Him and His Messenger (saw) and if he tells himself that he follows the sunnah of the Prophet (saw) in doing so. Thus, if we have the case of a man who loves his wife because of his sexual instincts and another man who loves his wife for the sake of Allah, the two of them seem to be doing the same thing but actually, there is a wide difference in their respective behaviour.
Who is an 'Arif
An 'Arif (knower) is one who recognizes Allah and the Shari'ah as well as the path and knows them well. According to the Sufis, an 'Arif is a collection of paradoxes. His personality and his deeds seem to be contradictory for he is in constant link with Allah and remembers Him all the time, yet he mixes along with his family and other people talking to them and laughing with them.
Differences between the beginner and the graduate
Among the Sufis, one who is in the incipient stages is known as a Mubtadi, a Beginner, and one who has passed through all stages is a Muntaha, a Graduate we may say. The former has his foot on the road to Tariqah, the Sufi path in search of inner reality of religious and spiritual life. The obvious status of both of them is similar and their behaviours look alike, while one who is between them seems different.
For example, there is a man like us who is a Mubtadi, a novice, just beginning to tread the religious path. He does everything that is worldly. He eats, drinks, converses with other people, buys and sells, spends time with his wife and children, etc. At the other extreme is the Holy Prophet (saw) who also buys and sells in the market, does manual labour, and spends time with his wives but he is a Muntaha, in the final stage, the Teacher. The apparent condition of the two is alike but there is much difference between them. There is a third man who is a little ahead of the Mubtadi and in-between the two stages. His behaviour is different. He does not go to the market and does not spend time with his family but he is ever occupied in remembering Allah and seeking His forgiveness. He has nothing else to do from morning to evening and he is on a third and middle stage.
The example of a Mubtadi and a Muntaha
Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi (ra) has explained the three categories through an example. There is a river and a man is standing at its bank while another has crossed over it and is at the other side of it while a third is swimming in its midst using his hands and feet. To one who sees them, the two men at either side of the river are alike; each is standing at the bank of the river although the one has yet to cross over the river and to endure the waves while the other has gone through the river and the tests involved in swimming before arriving at the other side. The third man is grappling with the waves and going through the tests in his attempt to arrive at the other side.
Paraphrasing the rest:
The reason that this is so is because like the person inbetween the two extremes, a person needs to practice before they can effectively transform their lives. The reason I bolded/italicized the word 'intention' above is to show that the fundamental principle throughout here is remembrance. Like I said earlier, sometimes things just remind you of Allah, whether its things, people, activities, whatever. It's a good idea to stick to them. On the other hand, most of our passing lives can be spent completely oblivious of Allah and that's why effort is needed to transform ourselves so we remember Allah, the Shari'ah (divine injunctions), and the Prophet(saw)'s Sunnah in everything we do.
One of the other effects of this is that it allows you to more effectively love something (by tapping into the most unselfish type of spiritual feeling at your core, your God-consciousness) and also to disengage if necessary... meaning you will be able to give up the love for the cause of Allah, whether for the rest of your life here or while temporarily rearranging priorities depending upon the demands on you. It prevents attachment of the psychological sort, the bad kind. Too much love is never a bad thing, but worldly love (not for the sake of Allah) can foster some unwanted phenomenon like attachment and other things.
Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi (ra) related an incident in which he got into an argument with his wife and she spoke with him harshly. He told her if she wanted, he'd go live in a khanqah (where disciples undergo spiritual training and do dhikr all the time, etc.) for the rest of his life because he can't live with hearing her tone that way (lol, btw). He wondered to himself if he could follow up on this threat and remove himself from his wife and his love for her and realized that if the love was for Allah, of course he could, provided he was disengaging for Allah as well.
It takes some time. If you love kids, it's difficult to intercept yourself when you come upon one and be like 'WAIT! don't like the child YET. remember Allah first' and the same for everything else, like your spouses (obviously for most all of us, Allah is not being remembered before the sexual instinct kicks in... because that can't happen without an islamically sanctioned marriage, and often when it kicks in under this cultural mindset, the idea of marriage itself becomes unpleasant).
That analogy is also good for telling apart fakers. Consider the shores as the limits of Shari'ah and Sunnah. You wouldn't believe someone standing on the shore telling you "Whoa dude, I'm swimming like hell right now, you should totally check it out, it's cool."