Matthew 22:37-39, “37 Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Did you know that Jesus was a genius at making complicated things simple? In the above verses, Jesus simplified 613 Old Testament laws into two commands, “Love God and love people!” Certainly, Jesus taught many other things on how to fulfill those two great commands, but the concept was given in such a way that even a child could understand and remember it.
Loving God is about being passionate for Him in worship and adoration (John 4:23-24). This means learning to love being with Him (in conversation and time), enjoying His presence, abiding daily, as a branch in the vine of Jesus (John 15). Also, it means to love God by obeying His commands (John 14:21). As a result, if you love God by worshipping Him and obeying what He commanded, with all your heart (emotions), soul (will), mind (thoughts) and strength (energy), you will always please Him.
Loving people, as you love yourself, means helping them in their time of need by being like the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). It also means preaching the gospel of Jesus to the lost, and teaching all people the ways of God (Romans 1:16-17). When you have compassion for people and teach them how to be saved and please God, you love them as you would love yourself.
Some people believe that Jesus’ two commands are impossible to fully obey in this life. They wrongly assume that the power of sin is too great and the grace of God too weak to actually make mankind able to obey them. They try to appear humble (or make excuses) when they say things like, “Nobody is perfect. We can’t always treat others as Jesus did.” Or, “We aren’t capable of giving God all of us until we are in heaven, because the flesh is always going to lead us astray.”
Jesus taught the exact opposite of those poor excuses and bad theology. He not only gave us His commands, with the expectation for us to obey them, but gave us the very power to do so (Matthew 19:26). Jesus said, in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Our perfection is not from ourselves but is the gift of God, given by grace, in our salvation and spiritual rebirth (Hebrews 12:23). We were born sinners but are born again as saints —holy ones of God. William Durham said that God never saved a man outwardly without also saving him inwardly.
We shouldn’t make excuses and say, “I can’t give Jesus 100% of my heart because of my flesh, so I’ll just give what I can.”
Instead, we should say, “God, today I give you everything, because you made me new so I could live 100% for you. If I’m holding anything back let me know, because my whole heart belongs to you!” Also, we should pray, “God, if I mistreat someone today let me know, because I always want to treat others like I want to be treated.”
Loving God and loving people should be the norm for the disciple on earth, not the hope of heaven. Choose, today, to love God and people the way Jesus commanded!
- Change your (bad) theology if you don’t believe you can follow Jesus’ commands as He taught them.
- Search your heart for the times you haven’t loved God or people the way Jesus taught. Repent and ask God to change your behavior.
- Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39)!