Monday, April 11, 2011

The Greatest Commandment

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30


I know that loving God is important, and here Jesus tells me it is the most important commandment He has given us. It sounds simple enough, but anyone who has loved or been loved has some history of disappointment, hurt, sorrow, or betrayal in a personal relationship. We can become defensive in relationships because of past hurts. I know I have.

God doesn't want defensiveness. On closer examination this commandment requires a complete surrender of our internal life. God is requiring a fully devoted, all-encompassing kind of love. Loving God is a refining, purifying experience. Biblical love is a decision of the will. It means loving God when you feel there is no love in your heart for anyone. It is a dedicated, intentional, committed love. We have to trust Him. Hardened hearts fall into trouble.

There was a time in my life when I was fighting cancer. I was between treatments, having just finished chemo and waiting for radiation. My doctor gave me a longer break because my first grandchild was due. Calvin was born with some life-threatening heart issues and was airlifted to Stanford for surgery when he was four days old. My brain couldn't remember any Scripture to calm myself at the hospital, but the Holy Spirit brought this phrase into my mind: "I know my God is just." I repeated it often in the confusing, exhausting days that followed. I wasn't relying on my feelings about God to trust Him. I was choosing to rely on what I knew about His character. I knew that whatever the outcome, God was just, and that could never change.

Loving God helps me get closer to an understanding of who I am and the God I belong to. He wants true intimacy from me, not my defensive, "I can take care of myself!" kind of thinking. In The Sacred Journey, Frederick Buechner says that you can survive, grow strong and even prevail on your own, but you cannot become human on our own. As we come to an understanding of how to love God, things fall into place. We begin to understand our humanness as God defines it.

God created us to have a deep, intimate, God-glorifying relationship with Him. That won't happen until we are satisfied with Him. There is a lot of competition for ways to feel satisfied in our culture, but they are imitations of the real thing. We need to be truly and deeply satisfied by God alone.


1. With my heart: Am I desiring God as intimately as He desires me?
2. With my soul: Am I striving to identify with Christ or the world today?
3. With my mind: How am I doing with surrendering my mind to thinking Biblically?
4. With my strength: Am I able to acknowledge my weakness and find the source of my strength in God?

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