LOVE – a four letter word used so often yet a difficult concept; powerful yet often painful… A word that we don’t truly dwell on and a word we often use carelessly yet no intent in the way we act. For us believers, LOVE isn’t a word or concept or act that can be overlooked.. It’s not about emotions but about decisions. God hasn’t given us the option to love but has COMMANDED us to love.. Jesus sums up the entire law and commandments into the 2 GREATEST commandments:
Love God with ALL your heart AND all your soul AND all your mind AND all your strength.
Love your neighbour as yourselves.
Two commandments but three fold love – God, each other and self!
I find it interesting how the emphasis is on AND ALL… Jesus didn’t simply say love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind but instead through the repetition of AND ALL places emphasis that part love isn’t sufficient… He wants our ALL. This covers our entire being – from our mind, emotions, will, passions, physical health everything is compassed in this and He isn’t asking for just a part of it, but ALL of it!
- What is holding you back from giving your ALL of all of the above to God?
- What is your heart and mind and soul full of? Allow God to search your heart and let the Holy Spirit bring revelation and conviction that leads to repentance.
- Is He nudging you to make a change in life today?
- Are there fears of the future? Is there a lack of trust in our Heavenly Father given the focus on what you see and analyse with your natural eyes and human wisdom? Are there past experiences and hurts that are gripping your mind today or perhaps unforgiveness and bitterness or envy that are eating at your heart? What is weighing you down?
- Is God by any chance nudging you to move, to call you into His Kingdom business? Is there hesitancy of leaving the comfort zone and giving up on things and people cherished as idols? Perhaps God is reminding you of Matthew 6:33 – to seek FIRST His Kingdom and righteousness that all these needs will be added. If you are running around trying to earn extra cash to make ends meet, being tired and weary, perhaps you need to ask God whether you are in the centre of His perfect will or whether you are holding back some of your mind, heart, soul and strength without hearing His voice and obeying?
The second commandment involves loving our neighbours as ourselves. Often we are unable to love ourselves, we are too hard on ourselves and keep bringing ourselves under the microscopes – whether it be our appearance or our heart or even our personalities.. we bring our past to the present and hold our past against ourselves too! We even drive to change our personalities to ‘fit in’ without realising that is the way God has created you, and that is no SIN! If you haven’t done so already, please read CHOSEN. You are indeed CHOSEN. Find your identity and security in Christ.. When you are unable to love yourself it’s difficult to love others as you don’t have the healthy standard to love by! Is it then of any wonder that Jesus explicitly states ‘as yourself’.
I think of these two commandments in terms of a CROSS. The vertical plank is dug in the ground. The deeper it is rooted, the more stable and unshakeable the cross stands. This is how our relationship with our Father should be. The more intimate we get with the Father, the firmer we stand in HIM.
The horizontal plank of the cross is held up by the vertical plank… without the vertical the horizontal can’t hang in mid air!! Our relationship with God sustains our relationship with each other – and our relationship with each other is in ‘mid air’ ! Our security shouldn’t be driven by these relationships or on these relationships as they are not permanent.. However nonetheless we need to love one another as ourselves. As God’s love flows in us, then it will flow through us and that gives us the capacity to love others the same way. The more we experience grace, the more we can extend it to others too!
When we are all out to condemn ourselves, when we haven’t experienced the grace of the Father, when we haven’t been able to soak in HIS love and see ourselves through His eyes, then we are unable to love others! God says there is no more condemnation as we are now a new creation in Christ. Yet we condemn others based on what we see .
The Samaritan woman at the well is referred to by many as the ‘sinful woman’. Did Jesus even tell her, ‘Go and sin no more” like the way He did with the woman who was caught in the act of adultery? No, in fact He called her ‘WOMAN” and in that day and age and cultural background it was a term of respect. Are you wondering why? Jesus obviously knew her background that would have caused her to make those decisions of multiple marriages and living with a man. There a number of possibilities. For example a woman needed a ‘male guardian’ – whether it be a father or brother or uncle or husband. What if this woman was an orphan? In those days women who were barren were often sent away. What if she had been barren and had gone through marriage after marriage hoping to find the male guardian and just only to experience the same situation again and again as her barrenness would have continued? What if she had finally decided that living with a man would be the only way to secure a male guardian and support as he wouldn’t be looking to raise a family?
In such situations in today’s day and age, when someone is forced to ‘sin’ out of circumstances, then obviously God would hold the community (church) accountable as if she had the love of the family of believers, wouldn’t have someone stepped in and rescued her and helped her? Isn’t this an example as to why Jesus warns us not to judge someone. (Making a judgment after hearing one out and seeking out all the facts guided by God’s discernment is another story altogether).
There is often much more to the eye than what we see… often there are things that the person cannot express simply because we aren’t being a safe people.
On the other hand, there is a danger of loving too much.
Codependency – We see people getting into one relationship after the other because they find their security in relationship. They feel good only when they have someone to leech on which shows a lack of rooting in God and lack of love of self. The codependency could be with vices and addictions too – filling the void with the lust of the flesh, or with vices or even taking fitness to an extreme level.
Another area where we can love too much is where we don’t know our boundaries. We can often be driven by compassion. Like the man who snipped off the butterfly’s wings in an attempt to free it from the struggle in the cocoon, we can cripple it’s growth period. God takes us through times of struggles, trials, wilderness stages to make us dependent on HIM and to trust in HIM and become intimate with Him. Sometimes our love for others can drive us to cripple them in their spiritual walk.
It is always important to seek discernment and do what God would want us to do.
GOOD without GOD amounts to nothing – and becomes a sin!