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Faith Alive! | Commandments of Christ 18

18. Love the Lord your God

From issue 100 (September–December 2011)

JESUS tells us that to love the Lord our God is the “great and first” (Matthew 22:38) commandment. For this reason alone it deserves our special attention, close consideration and of course, ultimately our action.

The New Testament is packed with passages about God’s love, and how central it is. The Apostle Paul urges us to “put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14) above all other virtues – the other things are useless without a sincere and loving spirit. Our love for God must stem from the fact that “he first loved us” (1 John 4:19), exemplified through the sacrifice of Jesus His only Son. Simply put, without love we can’t please God because “God is love” (1 John 4:16).

When he explains that our love for God must come first and foremost, Jesus clarifies that it must be done with “all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). This emphasises that our love must be with our whole being; our emotions (heart), our physical being (soul / breath), as well as our intellect (mind).

If we briefly consider the example of David, we soon realise the importance of loving God in all three areas as Jesus commands. The Psalms show us how David understood God from an intellectual perspective, proclaiming, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). He also clearly felt such passion for all that God stood for, as he “danced before the Lord with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14) when the ark of God returned to Jerusalem. Finally he took action, trying to serve God with his life, from fighting God’s enemies (1 Samuel 17:50) to preparing God’s temple (1 Chronicles 29:2). How reassuring it should be for us, that with all his well-documented flaws, David was ultimately considered by God to be “a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), having strived to love God with his heart, soul and mind.

It is clear then, that our love for God should be at the centre of our own lives. To be a disciple of Christ, God does not expect perfection, but He wants us to respond to Him sincerely, faithfully and with our love.

 

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