Matthew 22:36-38 (NIV)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
Have you ever wondered why this is the greatest commandment? Out of all the things Jesus could have said, why “Love the Lord”?
I mean, back in the day, there were a lot of commandments and amendments to commandments and amendments to amendments to commandments. Many of the religious leaders of the day spent so much time and energy making sure they meticulously followed all of these little rules and rituals from their law. So why not choose one of those?
Or why not choose something we all agree is important like the commandments to give to the poor, help the needy, or serve others? At least then it would be something tangible, something we could see and measure.
But maybe that’s the point.
Maybe Jesus knew we have a tendency to be too obsessed with lists and rules and religion, to the point where we forget the whole reason behind all of it – a relationship. Maybe Jesus knew we focus too much on things we can see to the point where we miss the things we can’t see. Maybe he knew we like to control how we earn God’s love by doing works, to the point where we don’t know how to simply trust Him to save us.
Love – It’s an Action Word.
We’re so used to having to do things to get anywhere in this world. We have to study to get an education. We have to work hard to get ahead in our careers. We have to put effort into relationships to make them work. Just loving seems like such a passive command doesn’t it? Love God. So simple.
Then again, maybe it’s not. Let’s look at the wording used in Matthew once again: “Love your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Why did Jesus draw it out like this? Why didn’t he just say, “Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind”? It doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. It’s like Jesus was trying to show us with the way he spoke that this command isn’t as simple as it seems. We can’t just sort of love God. We have to love Him with everything we’ve got. We have to love him with every ounce of our being.
It’s not enough to know that you love Him but not give Him your heart. It’s not enough to feel like you love Him but not surrender to Him your soul. He wants it all. And He deserves it all.
So, you see, it’s not so simple. And it’s not so passive. Love is a verb, and it requires a lot from us. But God knew that the rewards would definitely be worth it. This is why he called us to love Him first and foremost.
God is love.
God is love, and He wants us to be like Him. Therefore, it makes sense that He would want us to love. We were made in His image after all, and it’s when we try to go against our nature that we become unhappy and dissatisfied with life. God knows that to love like Him is what’s best for us.
God loves his children.
God loves his children, and He wants us to love Him in return like any Father. If you’re a father or mother, you know how heartwarming it is to hear your children say they love you, especially for the first time. There’s something indescribable about hearing those words come from your precious children whom you’ve cared for and loved with your whole heart. The same thing goes for when your children do things or give you things to demonstrate their love.
God, as our Father, desires this same love from us.
It’s more than that though. Can you remember being that child and being so happy to give your mother or father a gift because you loved them? Or being snuggled in their arms, feeling completely safe, and whispering those words to them? Loving our heavenly Father does the same thing for us now as loving our earthly father did for us when we were children. We feel safe, secure, joyful, and worthy of being loved in return.
God loves to bless His children.
Just like any father (or even more so), God loves to bless His children. He loves to give us things and He loves to see us joyful and happy.
God knows that all good things in life start with loving Him completely, giving Him our all. When we do this, when we open up ourselves to God, we open up the path for Him to pour down His blessings on us. If we’re closed off to Him by not loving Him fully or giving Him ourselves completely, it’s like we’ve closed the doors to our heart. God won’t shove His way in. He’ll knock, but we have to answer. He always wants to bless us in more ways than we can imagine, probably most importantly for our time here on earth with peace. But he needs us to be open to receive it.
Also, God knows that His perfect will for us is the only thing that can make us truly content and joyful, and the only way we can understand and follow His perfect will is if we first give Him our whole heart. Once we do that, we can receive the Holy Spirit and follow His guidance down the perfect path He has laid out for us.
This post is part of a 2-part series on the most important commandment. Read part one here.
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