Highlights of a live video 7/1/18.
The greatest commandment.
Is this easy to do? “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
It depends on how we understand the word “all.”
Can any of us say, “I love God as He deserves to be loved?” We all fall short of perfection, but we can love Him as much as we have been made capable. let me explain. Those who are saved start out as lawless damaged souls who are brought out of darkness into the light of reality.
The Spirit of God is now in the process of writing His laws on our new heart, healing our soul from the consequences of sin and giving us the mind of Christ. Considering some of our past lives He has plenty of work to do. So, in the mean time, until God perfects love in us, “all” is all we have to give. As imperfect as it is.
I found a verse in the Book of Joshua that helped me to understand what it means to love God. When the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh were to return to their allotted territories east of the Jordan River, Joshua had these words for them.
“Be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, …. to love the LORD your God and walk in His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul.” (Joshua 22:5)
To love God is to commit ourselves to follow Jesus by walking in His ways. By keeping His commandments ….. to love God and our neighbor (including enemies). To love God is to hold fast to our faith in Jesus, and to serve Him as best as we know how.
Is it easy? Not always ….. God has a habit of trying our faith. Not for His benefit, but for our benefit. This testing is to show us our current condition. Have we followed our new heart? Are we merciful to others? Do we hate evil? Are we resisting the temptations of sin? Holiness demonstrates love, and we’re called to be holy as God is holy.
As His children, we are raised by the Holy Spirit who encourages us to move past our failures. It is God’s unfailing love that matures us in Christ. My prayer is that each new chapter of our journey brings us closer to the day that our love for God will be like Christ’s.
The more we understand how much we are loved the greater our devotion will be. Paul prayed for the Ephesians, a prayer that I have made my own. It’s a great prayer if you’re wondering how much you’re loved.
Father, according to the riches of Your glory may I be strengthened with power through Your Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith; and that I will be rooted and grounded in love, and may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that I may be filled up to the fulness of God. (Adapted from Ephesians 3:14-19)
Knowing how much we are loved results in a greater love for God in us.
Christ chose to be vulnerable, receiving the rejection of many for the sake of a few. He didn’t have to come to us. We wouldn’t have known the difference. We were dead. No one has ever deserved Him, but He came for those who would come to Him.
The phrase “God is love” is powerful. God became a man that we might know Him. KNOW LOVE! We who believe in Jesus grow to know this amazing love because God lives in us. We are saved for a purpose. And that purpose is to love God and each other with the same love that we have come to know.
There are three things we can do to help others receive God’s love. We must clearly declare that Christ was condemned for sin as He took our place on death’s cross. He died for them too! What more could He do to show His love? And what greater sacrifice could the Father make for our sakes than to give His only begotten Son?
Romans 5:8 clearly states, “God demonstrated His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The power of God’s Spirit happens when Christ is declared in a life that prays and demonstrates the sacrificial love of God.
A final thought.
To follow Christ, by keeping His commands, is impossible without sacrifice. Jesus is our example. For us, it is our selfish and prideful ways that are to be sacrificed. I like to think of it as exchanging trash for treasure. Jesus clearly tells us how to find this treasure.
“He who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and show Myself to him. (John 14:21)