Friday, August 5, 2016

The Great Commandment

Matthew 22:36-38 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 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.”

Can you imagine someone commanding us to love? Well, those commands do happen, but we consider the source and act accordingly. We can understand how God can command certain actions or to refrain from some actions for our good. We can understand God telling us how we should speak or even think, because He knows and desires the best for us. But, when it comes to the “great commandment” to love the Lord our God, which goes into the inner-most depths of our heart, there seems to be a contradiction. Isn’t love a free choice. Why is this command the case?

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

I read an interesting article that poses several reasons. First, we are wired to love. God knows that we are going to love something above all and supremely. What do we really love? If we are not going to love our Almighty Maker, we are going to love something immeasurably less honorable, something inestimably less exalted than God. When we do that, we are inevitably going to become like the thing that we love and worship. That is why God says that He is a jealous God, that we should have no other gods before Him (meaning between His face and ours). We need only love and worship the one true God. If we do not, will no doubt suffer loss in empty love of idols.  

What is love? In Webster’s 1828 definition of  true “Love”, it states that if our hearts are right, we love God above all things, as the sum of all excellence and all the attributes which can communicate happiness to intelligent beings. In other words, the Christian loves God with the love of complacency in his attributes, the love of benevolence towards the interest of his kingdom, and the love of gratitude for favors received. The love of God is the first duty of man, and this springs from just views of his attributes or excellencies of character, which afford the highest delight to the sanctified heart. Esteem and reverence constitute ingredients in this affection, and a fear of offending him is its inseparable effect. True “Worship” is defined as, chiefly and eminently, the act of paying divine honors to the Supreme Being; or the reverence and homage paid to him in religious exercises, consisting in adoration, confession, prayer, thanksgiving and the like.

In fact, God does not “need” anything from us. But we most definitely need Him. The love of God fills the God-shaped hole in our heart. We need to worship Him and love Him so that our lives might be purified by that love. The Lord God has ordered us to love Him because He knows that our biggest problem is selfishness. In fact, the essence of sin is selfishness, which is the very antithesis of love.

1 John 4:8 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

The article concluded that if we are going to be lifted out of the mire of our sin, it is going to be by the power of love. Let us fix our gaze on Jesus Christ and His love for us. Let His love kindle in your heart and spirit a greater love of God. Let our love for Him lead us to the assurance that He is indeed utterly trustworthy and worthy of our love.

In Christ, Brian

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