“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,”
This is to love God with our entire being, our passion, our will, our spirits, our actions, and our intelligence. It encompasses every part of who we are and what we do. There is nothing passive about this love. Everything we do, desire, seek to understand, and how we respond to situations is done in love and because of love for God. It involves fellowship with Him through prayer, getting to know Him through studying and prayer, and wanting His will the way we used to want our own because our will is His will. The first four of the Ten Commandments tell us how to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. Exodus 20:1-11 list them.
“And God spoke all these words, saying,
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
Another way that we love God with our entire being is to make Him, Who He is, His will, and His Kingdom our priority. In Matthew 6:30-34 Jesus said,
“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
In other words, don’t act like the lost who have to run around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to meet their needs, and love themselves with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind. Have faith, love God, pursue more and more of Him in every aspect of life and let Him be God for you and to you.
The next kind of love goes hand in hand with loving God. Let’s return to what Jesus said, were the two commandments that contain all the law and the prophets. The rest of Luke 10:27 reads,
“You shall love…your neighbor as yourself”
This is not about self-esteem, it is about our worth as people. It is not about “loving” ourselves. We are to care about and be as concerned with our neighbors’ well-being just as much as we are concerned with our own. We do not want to go hungry or naked, we don’t want to be injured, so we don’t want that for other people either. But who is our neighbor? The Greek word πλησίον or plésion means any other person that we come across in life or have the chance to come across in life. When the lawyer in Luke 10 asked Jesus “Who is my neighbor” as a way to justify himself because he believed that a neighbor was a fellow Jew and did not include gentiles or anyone else, Jesus told him the parable of The Good Samaritan recorded in Luke 10:30-37.
“Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Samaritans did not have a good reputation, they were hated by the Jewish people and considered “less than.” Even that person you want to hate for whatever reason, because of their sin, their race, their beliefs, or religion, is your neighbor. We are to do good for our neighbors and we are not to harm them. Exodus 20:12-17 are the portion of the Ten Commandments which tell us how to love our neighbors as ourselves.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”
I have seen this love exhibited time and again. Yesterday, two of my fellow Christ followers and I were out on the streets and we prayed with several people. One person we prayed for appreciated the pray as “nice.” But then my brother, who does not have extra money to throw away, obeyed The Holy Spirit and gave this man a gift card with $45.00 on it. This tangible and active blessing moved this man. He immediately had us meet his wife, he shared their tragic story, and gave us testimony of miracles God has done for him, even though neither he nor his wife have yet given their hearts to Christ. But I know that God’s love manifested by my brother’s obedience will lead to that commitment because The Holy Spirit told me.
We are also supposed to love one another on a deeper level than we love the world. We love the people of the world by giving them as much concern as we do ourselves. But we love our fellow Believers, our brothers and sisters in Christ the way Jesus loves us. In John 13:34-35, on the night before His arrest, after Jesus did the job of the lowest of slaves and washed the disciples’ filthy feet, He said,
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Just like our love for God, this exceptional sacrificial and serving love for one another makes us stand out from the world. How did Jesus love us? What is this greatest love of all? Jesus explained it like this in John 15:12-17 as He prepared the disciples for His impending death,
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
Our love for another is so deep it makes our love for our neighbors pale in comparison. Our love for our neighbors is so deep it is indistinguishable from our love for ourselves. The Lord described the difference in Malachi 1:2-5.
“I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob's brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” 4 If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’” 5 Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!”
God didn’t actually hate Esau, the way we think of hate. He didn’t have a special relationship with Esau, He didn’t choose Esau. He chose Jacob. Edom didn’t receive the blessings and provision that a relationsip with God gave Israel. Love is active, it is tangible. When it does not yield the blessings, it is passive and passive love is tantamount to hate. No one is exempt from the command to love. Even our enemies are included. In Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus said,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Our love of God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind compels us to love the way He loves. He doesn’t leave anyone out of it. He loves the person who hates you. He loves the person who persecutes you. He loves the leaders of Planned Parenthood, Isis, and Westboro Baptist Church. The terrorists who hate, he loves. And because He loves them, so do we. We do not condone the evil they perpetrate. We do not fight hate with hate or terrorism with terrorism like Robert Lewis Dear who shot up the Planned Parenthood building in Colorado Springs. All he did was make people think Christians are extremist haters rather than revolutionary and radical lovers.
So Believer, love. Love God, love the people you encounter, love each other, and love your enemies. Be different from the world. Be like Jesus, the utmost of revolutionary and radical lovers.