Tuesday, April 12, 2011

First Things First

28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" 29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
~ Mark 12:28-29


Reflection

When Jesus answers the teacher's question, He says loving God is the most important commandment and loving your neighbor is a close second. Is this order deliberate? Is it possible to love others without first loving God wholeheartedly? Our experience says, yes. People who never love God can still love children, husbands, wives, mothers, siblings, friends-all the same folks that Christians love. Christians should recognize, however, that human love, without the power of the Holy Spirit behind it, is a mere shadow of what God intends.

True love, like true faith, is a product of the Holy Spirit. When I came to faith, I accepted the Holy Spirit into my soul. His presence transforms me into God's child and begins to mold my character and will. The Spirit pours God's love into me, empowering me to love as God loves.

1 John 4:7-8 explains this: Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

And, Romans 5:5 is similar: And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Knowing this, it becomes easier to understand why God expects us to love our enemies and to be perfect (Matthew 5:43-48). That's exactly how God operates! He loves sinners perfectly by sending His son Jesus to the cross to die on our behalf (John 3:16). We will not be perfect until we reach Heaven, but our mission as believers is to keep striving toward that goal by loving as God loves, and thus making Him visible to others. Oswald Chambers says in My Utmost for His Highest, "The expression of Christian character is not good doing, but God-likeness" (p. 264).

Response

1. Do you have first things first?
2. Have you first allowed the Spirit of God to pour God's love into your heart?
Or are you trying to love others on your own power?

About the Author

Renee Olsen and husband Jim have been members of Canyon Creek Church since 1993. They have two adult children, Joanna and Joey (who is married to Lindsey). Renee is a professional editor who helps maintain the church web site. She has led many small groups over the years and is trained as a Bible Study Fellowship teaching leader.

2 comments:

cr102084 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Reynolds said...

I love this statement, very well said!

"We will not be perfect until we reach Heaven, but our mission as believers is to keep striving toward that goal by loving as God loves, and thus making Him visible to others."