And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.
Most anyone who claims to be a believer and follower of Jesus Christ will agree with the above scripture and state that God most certainly should be #1 in our life. For this to have any real meaning, we must look at what that life should look like and how would we live this commandment out in practical details. The word used here for love in greek is “agape”; it means a love that is selfless and sacrificial like the love God has for us. The perfect example we have of it in demonstration is the sacrifice Christ made for us while we were yet sinners so He could redeem us. (Romans 5:8) In application then, we are to love God completely and sacrificially without the concern for what we “get out of it.” We are to return the love God has shown to us in a selfless way simply because He is worthy of this response and we long to do so. Of course this is impossible for us in our “natural” state, we need something new in us to be able to love Him like He loves us; that new thing is the indwelling Holy Spirit who is God Himself. This helps us understand the verse in 1 John 4:19 that tells us that “we love because He first loved us.” As sinners who have not yet been saved or born again, all we can do is respond to God in faith and receive salvation. Once we do that, God’s Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, enters us and fills us and we now have a new ability and desire to love God as the Bible commands us to. We can’t get this out of order; first we respond in faith and trust in Jesus, then we get filled with love and can give it back to God. This love is an “all in” type of love like God has shown to us in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It involves our heart/devotion/emotions, our soul/use of our body, and our mind/thought life/priorities/choices. This means we must actually choose to put God and His Word/purposes above all else in our life regarding how we spend our time thinking and behaving. Honoring God and showing He is #1 should be clearly expressed in our choices of work, recreation and relationships. To say we love Him and then to deny His will in how we live our lives proves us to be immature at best, or a liar and phony at worst. A casual reading of the Gospel accounts in the Bible will reveal that Jesus does not tolerate well hypocrites and liars! We are commanded to live by faith even if it costs us great sacrifice and even our very life itself out of love for God; this will prove impossible for someone who really doesn’t know and love the Lord. So the question before us is “Do I really know Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, and do I live like someone who does?” Much more is at stake for each of us as Judgment Day draws closer and we all give an account for ourselves as to how we lived. My prayer is that each of us devotes ourselves completely to God out of love and gratitude for His sacrifice for us, and we live by faith each day trusting that all we do will be rewarded by Him in eternity. (Hebrews 11:6) Blessings!
Love in Christ,
Pastor Gary Houdek