Have you ever noticed, how the simplest of things at first appearance can actually be much more complex then first perceived? I mean truthfully… Let’s be honest! How many of us have attempted to assemble something without using the directions. We look at the picture on the box and figure, “It’s going to be a breeze to put this thing together.” For me, it’s always been more like, “Directions, I don’t need no stinking directions.”
During a recent time in studying the Word a few weeks ago, I was lead down a path of discovery I’d never taken before and as a result, something very profound struck me. And with great similarity to the above paragraph, the first appearances of what I thought to be so simplistic in instruction become far more complex. Point in fact, the more I delved into deeper studied of His “directions” the more I realized I was never more wrong! During my study that morning, my eyes were opened to the fact, that in all my years of trying to fully understanding and follow God’s first and greatest commandment, I was only partially apprehending the totality of His command.
So with that, let’s turn to the passage we all know so very well…
Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.” Mark 12:29-30 NKJV
For most of us, I’d venture to say that we might often look at this commandment, in being condensed as, “Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.” We could narrow it down even further to mean, “Loving God with our total being.” Sounds pretty simple, right? I mean, if I love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength then I’m fulfilling His first and greatest commandment. But, suppose it’s not quite as simple as a glance-over of reading… What if the depth of what this commandment holds, is far more than anything we ever first perceived? Is it possible? Well, let’s go exploring!
One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.” NLT
Let’s look at it one more time…
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.”
Suddenly, amidst this greatest of all commandments a single word jumped out at me as never before. Like directions to assembling a structure, a single word became the foundational hinge, the crucial component that the entire commandment rests upon. Perhaps you see it, maybe it’s hit you as well, if not, let me point it out… the word is “love.”
With a burdened heart I must tell you, that I believe there are a significant number of believers who have yet to fully apprehend the biblical definition of the word “love.” What’s more, they’ve yet to fully embrace the godly aspects of love and in obedience to His Word, live love out. They might have their own interpretation of it, but the key to this commandment has nothing to do with our feelings our ideologies about what love is… what matters is how God has defined love!
So let’s turn again to the Word and discover His definition. And remember, all Scripture is God breathed and therefore, every word can be trusted for our good and God’s glory!
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13 NKJV
So, there it is… the two greatest definitions from Scripture – defining what it means to love.
Suddenly I found myself in the midst of a host of biblical questions arising from a spiritual accountability paradigm. I began to search my heart in all truth, asking the Holy Spirit to help me truly understand the depth of magnitude of the greatest of all commandments…
Am I patient with God?
Am I always kind in thought, word and my actions towards God?
Do I ever become jealous of others because of how God might bless them?
Do I boast more about what I’ve accomplished in life or that which God has done in and through my life?
Do I hold any prideful areas in my life, which would displease God?
Have I ever been rude to God? Have I not listened to Him, cut Him off while He was trying to speak to me?
Am I demanding in my prayers, seeking what I want or do I focus on God’s will, what He wants?
Do I ever become irritated with God… impatient and frustrated with Him?
Have I kept any record of having been wronged according to my perceptions,when in actuality, God was disciplining me because of His great love for me?
Am I consistent in rejoicing when God’s truth wins out and do give praise to Him for the victory?
Do I ever feel like just giving up on my walk with the LORD, because of various circumstances?
Has my faith ever been filled with doubt, speculation, or become lethargically weak?
Am I unceasingly hopeful in all of God’s promises?
Am I resolved to endure as a follower of Christ Jesus for God’s glory no matter what the circumstance?
Am I willing to lay down my life, no matter what the cost, to pick up my cross and follow Christ Jesus?
You see, when we’re willing to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the truth of our heart as God Himself sees it, then it is there at those moments in time, we should pause in utter humility and tremendous reverence before the LORD, understanding the totality of that, which He commands of us in our love for Him.
O LORD God Almighty, help us to know you better in order that we will love you greater, through Christ Jesus I pray.