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You must love God with your whole heart, with all your being and all your strength. — Matthew 22:37
As I consider some of Jesus’ more popular and not-so-popular sayings, I’m looking for his most important words. I’ll end this series with what should be at the very top of everyone’s “most important” list.
Jesus said, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). Everything he said is important, but which words are most important?
Perhaps the ones I haven’t really taken to heart.
Or maybe what I’ve heard but have forgotten. In that case, I need to remind myself.
We have the Prime Directive.
Jesus said the most important commandment is to love God with our whole being. That sounds serious, as if “love God” definitely belongs at the top of my list.
What does love mean? When Connie Francis sang her popular song in 1961, love became “a many splendored thing,” a wonderful feeling I want for myself, but not necessarily something I want to give.
Love Is a Choice.
As much as I might be starving for love, I cannot choose to be loved. I can’t control whether others love me. If I could, we would call it an “earned response,” not love.
The apostle Paul said, “While we were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). I did nothing to earn his sacrifice on the cross. He loved the sinful, undeserving me so much that he chose to die. Why? For the mere possibility that I might choose to love him.
What will my choice be, and how much should I give?
Loving God requires knowing him.
I’m not very good at loving someone I don’t know.
When I was a kid, my dad talked about his love for the Lord, which showed in his actions. At home, he was the same kind, understanding person as the one I saw preaching at church. I thought, I wish I loved God like that.
Over the sixty years that followed, my commitment to love God has grown significantly. Why? I know him much better now.
The better I know him, the more I’m willing to give.
We love God for his gifts.
The Bible says we won’t come to God unless we have faith in his rewards (Hebrews 11:6), and we should “earnestly desire his best gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31). So wanting isn’t bad unless we’re storing treasure on Earth instead of Heaven.
Jesus said, “If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, you can be sure your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11:13).
Do I understand what Jesus was saying? I strive for the best for my children, but God will do much better for me than anything I can imagine, giving me the best of all gifts. What is that? He promises to give himself, the Holy Spirit—but I must ask, seeking that gift from him.
With his gift comes the process of becoming like him, being adopted into his family, and living with him forever.
Because God first loved us, we have no excuse for not loving him. — 1 John 4:19