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The Greatest Commandment: Love (Part 1)

In both Confirmation and Adult Sunday school, we have been saying Mark 12:30 together nearly every week. I have told the students th

at hopefully if we say it often enough, they will accidentally memorize it. The verse is Jesus’ response to a scribe who asked, “Which is the most important commandment of all?” When Jesus answered the question, he threw in a bonus answer. In verse 31, he also told him what the second greatest commandment was. Jesus said the greatest command is to love God, and the second greatest is to love others. This month, I’ll focus on the first command, and next month on the second.

In Jesus’ response, He not only told us to love God, but described how we should love God.

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.[i]

This verse should be convicting for us. It is so easy to say that we love God, but in practice we fall way short of this command. God doesn’t settle for half-hearted love. He doesn’t settle for nice feelings towards Him. He demands that you love him with all your heart and soul. He expects perfect devotion and commitment to Him. He isn’t fooled when you claim to love Him but live like you are more committed to all kinds of other relationships, things and activities.

God also doesn’t settle for a passive, lazy love. He expects love to be active. He demands a love that includes great effort and sacrifice. Our love for God should consume all of who we are and what we do. Think about what you have worked the hardest for and sacrificed the most for in life. How does that effort compare to the effort you put into knowing and serving God? Have you just given God your leftovers? You are to love God with all your mind and strength!

Take a hard look at yourself. Take time to think about your life. Stop pretending, but instead be brutally honest about the many ways that you don’t love God as you should. Confess that to God. It is painful to do that, but it helps you to see just how amazing God’s love for you is. The good news is that God perfectly loves you! In His perfect love, He sent Jesus to take the punishment for your imperfect love.

Your hope cannot be found in how well you obey the greatest commandment, because you will never perfectly love God. Hope is only found in trusting in what Jesus did because of His great love for you. As you study God’s Word and are more amazed by His incredible love, your love for Him will also grow! That is how God changes your heart to love Him more. “We love because He first loved us” (I John 4:19).

[i]All verses quoted from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mk 12:30). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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