“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Hello friends, as we memorize Mark 12:30-31 this week, I am humbled by the depth of the love that is commanded of us. How do I begin to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? The starting point naturally begins – again – with 1 John 4:19; we love because He first loved us. The sacrifice that Jesus made for us shapes our every step, our every action, our every thought. The more we understand the depth of His love, the more our lives will become an expression of this love.
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
To Jesus, the greatest commandment has two components: love for God and love for others. Jesus commands a perfect love with our Lord that will naturally overflow into the world. This is how we change the world. This is how the gospel comes alive and can be received across the world. Without love, we are just noise, a clanging cymbal – 1 Corinthians 13:1.
So what does Jesus mean by loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength? He is taking the first of the ten commandments, “You shall have no other gods before me,” (Exodus 20:3) and bringing it to life by loving God completely:
- our whole heart – seeking Him with affection, praying to Him, singing to Him, and bringing our troubles to Him;
- our soul – a devotion to Him that is only satisfied in what pleases Him;
- our mind – seeking wisdom through prayer and study of the scriptures;
- our strength – love in action through the use of our time, talents, and abilities.
The world is constantly distracting us from who God is and His love for us. When one of these four components is compromised, sin creeps in and crumbles the whole infrastructure. We lose sight of our love for God and we start putting our “needs” and desires ahead of others; effectively losing sight of our love for others.
1 John 4:7-12
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
If God is love and He showed his love among us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), it’s natural that we’d express that same love towards others. Who then, specifically? Who is our neighbor?
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”
In this example, our neighbor is a complete stranger. Moreover, Samaritans were looked down upon as inferior. Jesus makes the point that we are all God’s children, sinners that fall short of the glory of God – Romans 3:23. Since we are saved by God’s grace alone, our hearts should be overflowing with compassion and love for our fellow man. Every single person on this earth is our neighbor and should receive our expression of God’s love.
1 John 3:16
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
A commandment so simple and yet so profound; impossible to perfect this side of the grave: love God and love others. It will be a lifelong journey and I am thankful for all of you that are joining me in it and dedicating time to memorizing God’s word. Your relationship with God comes alive through discipline and devotion.
May you be blessed this week as you seek to deepen your relationship with God. May your love for Him overflow into the world in ways that transform lives through Christ.
1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
In Christ’s Strength Alone,