Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30-31, Luke 10:27
The #1 thing that we are supposed to do as Christians is to Love the Lord our God. We are to love him above all else. If you are like me and have been a Christian for a long time, then you know this verse well. You’ve heard it a thousand times. Most of us don’t give it a second thought. Loving God seems so elementary. Of course I love God. But am I loving God? I mean, are we loving Him actively, daily, and consciously?
Our focus is so easily swayed to the ‘to do’ list of Christianity. Did I pray today? . . . . check; did I read my bible today? . . . . . check; did I do for others today? . . . . check. Sound familiar? We have neatly fit God into our daily planners. God doesn’t want to be something that we just check off of our lists. He wants to be known, pursued, experienced and adored with the intensity and desperation of a David or a Job. He wants to be loved in the fullest expression.
The English language has 1 word for love, while the Greek language had 4; storge, philia, eros, and agape. Storge means ‘affection’, and refers to the love a parent has for his or her child. Philia is the word for ‘mental love’ which means friendship or the loyalty to friends and family. Eros means physical or passionate love. And the deepest, and richest love is agape which refers to love in the spiritual sense. Agape is a true and unconditional love; one that is selfless. It gives and expects nothing in return. This is the love our heavenly Father has for us. The only love worthy of our God is agape love.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. . . . love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
This is another verse that we have heard a million times. Even though he is mostly talking about our love for one another, it is still agape love. When you really examine the description of how we are to love, we realize . . . it’s a tall order! And, I know that I often fall miserably short.
Thanks to the fall of man, or maybe even before that, our sin nature causes us to love selfishly. We look out for our own needs and desires. Whatever makes us feel good and benefits us, we love. Why do you think the divorce rate is so high? Our sin nature makes agape love unnatural for us. I would question if we are even capable of loving with an agape love at all without God’s help.
So, how can I ‘love’ a God who is above all powers, above all kings, above all nature and all created things? What does it mean to love the Lord your God with all your heart? . . . all your soul? . . . all your mind? . . . and all your strength? How can I grasp loving the God of the universe? . . . and love Him well? I would say that we have to ask Him to teach us such a love as this.
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” John 14:21
Love the Lord your God with all of your heart. All of our heart needs to be devoted to Him, and Him alone. There can be no idols. We need to be constantly evaluating where our ‘treasure’ is. Where do we spend our time and money? What are the majority of our thoughts about?
“You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God . . .” Exodus 20:3-6
Love the Lord your God with all of your soul. Don’t sell yourself out. Your soul belongs to the Lord, and He loves it and protects it like no one ever could.
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Matthew 16:26
Love the Lord your God with all of your mind. Keep your mind sharp. Use your mind to discover all that God has for you. Use it to soak up scripture, not just read it. Ponder the things of God.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” Isaiah 26:3
Love the Lord your God with all of your strength. Keep your body strong and healthy. It is His temple. Use your body for the Lord. Give Him the best of your ability.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Most churches focus primarily on the 2nd commandment, “love your neighbor as yourself”. We focus on missionary work, evangelism, and outreach. All of which are good things and commanded by God. However, “love your neighbor as yourself” is not the most important commandment. Loving Him is.
Focusing on the second commandment first leads to burn out. We cannot bypass the “loving Him” and be fruitful in ministry. Satan knows that we are ‘doers’. In biblical times doers were called Pharisees, today they are the ‘Superchristians’ that we so admire. We all aspire to be the ‘Marthas’, not the ‘Marys’. We busy ourselves as if building a resume for heaven. How many ministries did I serve in? how many people did I convert? How many neighbors did I invite to church? Anything that Satan can use to distract us from loving and trusting God, he will use . . . even service and ministry.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
The focus has to be not on the doing, but on the loving. If we put first things first, then the second commandment will happen naturally. The doing comes out of the loving. Just as the fruits of the spirit come from spending time with God and studying His Word. If we ask Him every day how to love Him more . . . and if our eyes are continually on Him, then how far can we stray?
My prayer is this . . . .
Lord, I want to love You more. I want to love You with every breath I take, every step I make, every action I take. I want to love You in every moment of my day. I want to love You in quiet times spent at your feet. I want to love You from the moment I wake up in the morning until sleep takes me at night.