Day 5: Love God, Love Others
Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”
Mark 12:30-31 The Message
I’ve come to Him so backwards.
You see, I first loved Him not because of what He did for me, but what He did for my mom. When my brother relayed her words of trust in Jesus to me as she lay near death, He captured my heart. I loved Him for being with my mom, comforting her, blessing her with peace. I loved Him and gave myself to Him because He loved her.
But it took years, for me to come to understand my need for Him and what He’d done for me. Years to receive His love for me.
My love for Him began with what He did for my mom, but now I love Him for what He’s done for me too. And in receiving His love I’ve discovered freedom. Freedom from sin. Freedom from death. Freedom from fear. And freedom to love others.
“What is the most important commandment?” they asked. For so long I thought Jesus’ answer was too simple. Love God… love others. Is that all there is to it? What about the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the lessons Jesus taught the disciples? It just can’t be simply: Love God, love others. There must be more to it… more rules to follow.
There’s not. Every single word of the Bible, every moment Jesus spent on earth contains this one message. I’m the one who wants to make it about rules. Rules are easily followed. Rules make it easy to judge myself and others. He took this rule wanting girl and turned her life upside down. Because faith has only one rule, one way to measure who I am and whose I am. When I begin to look at myself, my actions, my life through the lens of love, there is nothing simple about it. Love is the rule faith is measured by.
The first in importance… love the Lord God…
First and most important, according to Jesus, is to love the One True God with all our passion, prayer, intelligence and energy. Or the more familiar: heart, soul, mind, and strength. Learning to love God is really all about accepting His love for us. He loved us first, but we have to come to recognize and receive His love for us. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us (1 John 4:16).
We see His love in the extravagant nature of creation. A vast complex universe of detail, diversity and infinite dimensions created for an insignificant finite people. His love speaks volumes through the abundance of color and life. The many facets of creation. Sky: sunsets, sunrises, shooting stars. Edible creations: spicy, sweet, savory. Wildlife: butterflies, wildebeests, polar bears. Geography in general: canyons, mountains, great gulfs of water! The rhythm of days, months, seasons and years. Discoveries yet to be made. What kind of God creates so much for so few? When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers… what is man that you are mindful of him… that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3-4).
Yet, we see the greatest depth of His love for us through Jesus. His Son whom He sent to heal, restore, resurrect, and redeem. He died in our place. Endured what we deserved, because we couldn’t. Love held Jesus to the cross. Not our sin. Not His obedience. Not His Father. Love for His lost broken rebellious creatures kept Him there. Love bears all things… (1 Corinthians 13:7).
When we see His love on the cross. Recognize the grace and mercy we desperately need, what He offers freely, we begin to love Him too. The first sparks of love for Him bless us with forgiveness for all our sins. They heal our soul. Restore life. And redeem our spirits. His love frees us from death and sin when our hearts open up to love Him. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ… (Ephesians 6:24).
His love welcomes us with opens arms. Just as we are. But He loves us too much to leave us that way. Receiving His love refines, grows, purifies our hearts. Frees us from demanding others to meet our needs. Frees us from fear of being taken advantage of. Frees us to love others. He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32).
When we love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, we can begin to love our neighbor as ourselves. Knowing His sacrificial love for us and its many blessings, enables us to offer the same kind of love to those in need around us. From now on… we regard no one according to the flesh (2 Corinthians 5:16).
No longer will we judge. We see them as we once were. Poor and needy. Lost and wounded. …in humility count others more significant than yourselves (Philippians 2:3).
No longer will we need others to love us. Or need them to keep us safe or happy. His love keeps us fully satisfied and filled with joy. Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days (Psalm 90:14)
Loving Him with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength, puts us in the place where we can lay down our lives for our friends and frees us to serve them without expecting anything in return.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
Galatians 5:13 NIV
His love heals. Our sins. Our hearts. Our broken relationships.
Our love for others. Makes the way for Him to heal them too.
First and most important. Love God. The second simply follows, flowing out of the first. Loving others, laying down our lives for our friends.
Talk It Out
Talk it over with yourself:
Think about your love for God.
Put it in words, write it in your journal or voice it to the sisters you’ve gathered.
Talk it over with God:
Ask Him to grow you to love Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
Mark 12:30 HCSB
Exercise Your Faith
Name two strengths you see in yourself.
Give thanks to God for giving you these strengths.
From memory, recite or write the memory verse for Love. Then, one more time, do the same for the verses memorized for: Believe, Pray, Trust, and Obey.
It’s been a joy, sisters! We look forward to our last session together.