Jesus said to him, "‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ "This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ " - Matthew 22:36-39
It is easy for us to be caught up in peer pressure and reverse the order of these two commandments; we sometimes love our neighbors in a way that is contrary to loving God. While the “golden rule”, treating others as you would like to be treated, is a high standard of behavior, there is a real temptation to become an enabler or even codependent if the other person is dabbling in behavior that is outside of God’s Will.
By putting our focus on loving the Lord, understanding and following His Will, all other things in life take on a proper perspective.
Let’s explore these important words.
When we accept Jesus to be our savior, we are also acknowledging Him as our Lord. To have a Lord is to relinquish control of all things, important and trivial, to Him – He is ruler of our life. The first of the Ten Commandments is this: “You shall have no other gods before me.”
"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” - Matthew 7:21
To love the Lord YOUR God is a defining moment in a person’s life. To accept Him personally is to meet God face to face and acknowledge His superiority in all things, yet still being privileged to have a personal relationship with Him. God is always present and close. He is not “the man upstairs” hovering around in outer space, He resides in the heart of every believer, seeing and feeling everything we do.
Loving God is to be active – not just a warm fuzzy feeling. Loving God involves commitment and loyalty. It involves trust and respect, knowing and sharing, giving and surrendering of yourself. It is THIS love that the second command is modeled after. God demands that He be loved. It is His first commandment.
A person's heart, soul, and mind are focused upon something: self, possessions, the world, the flesh, power, fame, a person. God demands that we focus our whole being upon Him. We cannot hold back anything in our love for God. The key word here is ALL. We are called to glorify Him in ALL that we do and ALL that we are.
“What a heartbreak it would be to live an "almost" Christian life, then "almost" get into heaven.” Greg Laurie
With all your Heart
The heart is the seat of man’s affection, will and devotion.
Is there anyone on earth you love more than God? (Matthew 10:37)
Is there any item or treasure on earth you put ahead of your love for God? (Matthew 6:19-21)
Is there any word on earth (including the US Constitution) that carries greater weight than the Bible? (John 14:23-24)
With all your Soul
The soul is seat of person’s consciousness, their life and essence. We are called to love with all the life and awareness in our being.
"He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” - John 12:25
With all your Mind
The mind is the seat of intellect, reason and understanding.
“…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” - Romans 12: 2
As we engage the people and the world around us, we must always be aware of God’s presence and urging in our lives. If we choose to deviate from the straight and narrow path He has laid out for our life, we are choosing to intentionally throw water on the fire of our love for Him.
When we love our neighbors before loving God, we miss the opportunity to TRULY love them by sharing the word of God and demonstrating our first love for Him.
The Bible says we are to “speak the truth in love.” – Ephesians 4:15. The greatest sign of love I ever received was a preacher who lovingly told me that I was a sinner and was going to go to Hell if I did not repent of my sins. He showed me the savior, Jesus, who loved me before I even knew Him.
It is Jesus’ loving words from John 8 that saved an adulteress, when He forgave her and said, “go and sin no more.”
Pastor Jay Merritt