Love the Lord your God

Love the Lord your God

A Commandment

Jesus beautifully summarized the law for us in Matthew 22:37-39, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

This commandment to love is not a request, but a requirement of our Lord. I have read this passage over and over, thought about it many many times. I have wondered at its application, knowing its beyond my own strength and will.

The Different Meanings of Love

Love in our society has many meanings. When I was younger I thought primarily of romantic love, being overwhelmed in my senses and my emotions with this tremendous feeling. I didn’t think falling in love had too much to do with me, my actions, my thoughts, rather it was something that happened, a mystical thing.

There was also the love that I already had for family and friends, this love had either always been there, a constant force in my life, or commitment that had grown over time as a friend and I grew closer. These loves had strong elements of loyalty and commitment, but less of passion or a feeling of being overwhelmed.

Which of these kinds of love is God looking for in this passage? My modern understanding that there are different kinds of love reflects ancient ideas where they had actual words to reflect these ideas. Romantic love was called eros, brotherly love or affection was called phileo and there was yet another kind of love, a deep sacrificial kind of love, called agape. This is the kind of love that Jesus felt for us and that led him to the cross. This is the kind of love described in 1Cor 13.

Peter’s Love

Consider the story of Jesus and Peter meeting up after Jesus’ resurrection, this meeting gives some insight into agape love. The story in English is a little bit odd because we don’t have these different forms of the word, love. In English it has Jesus asking Peter three times if he loved him and Peter answering three times that he did. But in Greek, Jesus asks twice, do you love me with agape love, and Peter answers that he loves (only) with phileo love. At the end Jesus accepts this brotherly love, but goes on to prophesy that Peter will die in Jesus’ service. Indeed Peter would come to have a sacrificial, totally committed love, even though it was not in place at that moment.

Jesus accepted Peter where he was at, but knew that growth and change would happen over the course of an obedient committed life.

Pray to Love the Lord your God

Jesus, I long for you to be my ultimate treasure, give me strength and grace and power to do so.

Love Lord God

Love the Lord Your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul

This design is available for purchase at Fine Art America. Thank you to Rob Hamm for the beautiful photo.

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Sharing the Kindness of God

Love your neighbor kindness

When we study the fruit of the Holy Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, we see that these are a reflection of Jesus. As we move closer to Jesus in our daily walk, the Holy Spirit makes us more like him. The fruit of the Holy Spirit, the characteristics of Jesus, become more apparent in us with lasting effects.

Thinking of Kindness

This week I have been thinking a great deal of kindness; especially of the kindness of my Father towards me. First and always he showed his great kindness in rescuing me from sin and making me his beloved daughter through the work of Jesus on the cross. I think if we hold this great kindness before us, believing in God’s goodness towards us, his absolute lack of evil intent, we can get past some of the judgment and self-protection that keeps us from being kind to other people.

The Eternal Factor of Kindness

If the quality of kindness is from God, then it has an eternal factor. An act of kindness can be discussed in terms of time – like the 10 minutes it took you to carry extra groceries to a sick friend. It can be discussed in terms of money – like the $200 contributions people have been making towards a scholarship fund for the poorest children in our town. But these scales are insufficient when we hold God’s standards, I think it could argued that the effects of certain kind acts can continue indefinitely. Take the scholarship fund that I am involved with: Children that might not have had the chance to go to school past the age of 11 are now going. These children are the first in their family to achieve high school graduation. They now have a much better chance at a decent job and help their younger siblings get through school. More marketable skills in the family and in the village means that the village is moving away from the grinding poverty that have trapped the generations before. More people can read and reason and come to know the Father with their minds, moving beyond superstition and desperation. An act of kindness with eternal effects.

A Full View of God

I have been hearing a great deal lately about God’s holiness and justice. And these are important aspects of his divine character. But it is to our loss if we ignore other parts of his character such as his goodness and mercy. We have to come to a fuller view of all sides of his character to bring our own minds into alignment with his.

Love your neighbor kindness

Love your neighbor as yourself – show kindness

What are some ways God has shown you kindness?

 

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