Love is a hot topic in our world every day. We speak of “falling in love” or “having lost my love” as if love is something that just happens, whether we want it to or not. While the concept of marriage is under incredible attack in today’s world, love is still a hot topic.
We read in the tabloids of love between two people and then, one paragraph later, we read of the separation of two others. We celebrate the many years of marriage of one couple while we are hurting for another couple going through separation and dissolution of their marriage
Then, too, as parents, we love our children. And, as adults, we love our children and their children, and we love our parents, and miss them when they are gone.
And, if we look carefully, there even are times when our children love each other!
While the children may not be as demonstrative as they get older, loving sibling relationships are precious.
We say that we love flowers.
We love food.
We love to travel and take vacations, like a cruise going to faraway places in style.
And, it goes without saying, we love our pets.
And now we have our two canine MinPin daughters, Snickers and Cuddles.
Our love for people, animals, objects and activities is a love that is conditioned on various factors. We love those related to us in a different way than we do our generalized acquaintances. We love some flowers and not others, and some like to eat lobster and others wouldn’t touch it! In other words, there is self-motivated volition involved in our love of things and others.
In stark contrast, this is not how we are to love our God. We are COMMANDED to love the Lord our God, and not just a little bit or for a limited time!
In Deuteronomy 6:5 we read:
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
That essentially covers everything! It is repeated elsewhere in the Old Testament, for example: Deuteronomy 11:1 and 13:3, and Joshua 22:5.
We cannot shrug our shoulders and mumble, “Yeah, but that was okay thousands of years ago, not for us 2016!” Rather, Jesus reiterated that this was still a commandment for us in Matthew 22:37 when He repeated these exact words. But Jesus didn’t stop there — not only are we to follow the command in Deuteronomy, Jesus expanded it in Mark 12:29-31 by commanding us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Jesus takes love out of the mental/spiritual world and puts it into the physical/material world. This turns love into action, not just thought or emotion. We see our neighbor and we are to love him/her.
Loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves means to serve others as Jesus Christ exampled for us, as He lived, and as He died in complete obedience to His Father. We surely cannot live a sinless life and comply with God’s will in all things as He did, but we can keep His commands on a day to day basis as we are enabled by the Spirit. We can love God; we can read His Word; we can meet with fellow believers and worship Him regularly; we can love others, if for no other reason than because He tells us to do so.
Note that our obligation to love our neighbor does not depend on whether the neighbor is either lovely or loveable – it is a command to Jesus’ followers that has no qualification as to the one being loved. It is between us and the Lord. “If you love me, keep my commands.” John 14:15.
There is no wriggle room. It is an “if … then” statement. If you love me, then you will keep my commands. Or, stated another way, if you do not keep my commands, then you do not love me.
This is not optional – it is not a suggestion. It is a direct command that indicates whether
- I do or do not love my Lord and Savior,
- I will or will not allow His Spirit to guide my steps through the day,
- I will or will not follow His direction.
If I say that I am His, do my actions support my statement or do they undermine it?
What about you? Prayerfully consider these questions and seek the Lord’s face as you look at your life, your speech, your actions, your thoughts, your motives, etc.
“If you love me, keep my commands.” Am I one of His disciples or not? Are you?
Everything depends on the answer to that question!
Father, I pray that the meditation of my heart is acceptable to you this day. I pray that your Word would be used by the Spirit to illuminate the hearts of those who do not know You. I pray that you would forgive me when I have failed to love You with my whole heart, soul and might. Thank you for calling me to Yourself through the atoning work of your Son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.