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2. Love, the Greatest Commandment

Expressing Our Love to God

Usually, when we think about loving others, we focus on our friends and family. God is frequently left out except maybe as an afterthought. This is not the way God wants it to be. Throughout the Bible, God tells us that He loves us and, in turn, we should love Him. The Apostle John writes extensively about God's love for us and our love for Him (read 1 & 2 John).

How do we love a being such as God? He is beyond our ability to know and understand, but love Him we must. The purpose of the Bible is to reveal God to us. Although we can never fully know and understand God, He does tell us enough about Himself so that we can know and understand Him to a small degree with out limited abilities.

Our Love to God Must Be Total (Matthew 22:37-40)
Jesus, the Second Person of the Godhead, declared that the greatest and most important commandment is... "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind."

This means our love for God must be total. We are to love God with every aspect of our personality - our emotions (heart), with our spiritual life (soul), and with our intellect (mind). When we do this, we are giving ourselves totally over to doing God's will.

Jesus did not end His discussion of important things with only loving God. He continued by declaring... "The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." John borrows this and asks this question: "How can we love God if we do not love our neighbor?" His answer was - You cannot! If we truly love God, we will love our neighbor.

Our Love for God Is Expressed When We Trust and Obey Him (Joshua 6)
Joshua 6 records an example of how we must trust and obey God. The city of Jericho blocked Israel's admission into Canaan. As long as it remained unconquered, it would be a threat to their conquest and occupation of the Promised Land.

Instead of telling Joshua to make siege engines to storm the fortress city, God told Joshua to have the Israelites march around the city once a day for six days without making any noise. On the seventh day, they were to march around it seven times and then shout. From a human point of view, this was a ridiculous military plan. God, on the other hand, wanted Israel to know that He was greater than any military plan or force.

Israel did as God commanded. The collapsed and the city was destroyed. Israel believed God would do as He said He would. They trusted His command and obeyed it. Today, we show our love for God when we trust what He has told us and then do it.

Our Love for God Is Expressed When We Love Ourselves (Romans 6:4; 13:9; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 4:13)
Another way we show our love for God is when we love ourselves enough to do His will. If we really love ourselves, we will do whatever is necessary to protect and care for ourselves. The most important thing we can do is obey God.

Our Love for God Is Expressed When We Love the Non-Christian (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 10:1-11, 21; Romans 13:9)
In both the Old and New Testaments, God tells us to love our neighbors. One way we can show love for the non-Christian is by telling him or her about God and about God's plan for mankind to be restored to an intimate relationship with Him.

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus tells us that as we go throughout our daily lives, we are to "make disciples" (telling them of God's love, grace, and salvation) of those with whom we come in contact.

We can do all kinds of good deeds to help people. We can provide them with food, clothing and shelter. These things, however, are only temporary. Tomorrow they

will need these "things" again. When we introduce them to the spiritual blessings of God, they will never be without them (Ephesians 1:3). This is the greatest love we can show to or fellow man.

Our Love for God Is Expressed When We Love Our Spouse (Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19; First Peter 3:1-7)
Paul said that Christ's love for the church is the model for the love between a husband and wife. Christ's love for the church was so great that He died for it. It is to be the same between the husband and wife. They are to love each other to such an extent that they will be willing to die for one another.

In 2 Peter 3:1-2, Peter talked to Christians who had non-Christian spouses. He does not tell them to "preach" to the unbelieving spouse. In fact, he tells them not to do so. Instead, the Christian is to live a life of such holiness and purity that the non-Christian spouse will see God glorified and desire to become a Christian.

Our Love for God Is Expressed When We Love Our Children (Deuteronomy 6:4- 9; Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20-21)
There are several ways we show our love for our children. One way is to teach them God's ways. When we do this, we are preparing them to one day decide for themselves to accept Jesus as their Savior.

Another way is to help them grow and develop into mature, independent adults. This allows them to become the type of people God wants them to be.

Our Love for God Is Expressed When We Love Our Enemies (Matthew 5:43-46; Luke 6:27-38; Acts 7:60; Romans 12:20; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

In Romans 5:6-11, Paul wrote that all men were enemies of God. Instead of punishing man, God sent His Son, Jesus, to restore man to God's favor.

In our relationship with people - especially those we dislike or consider enemies - we are to follow the example of God. Because God forgives us for rebelling against Him, He expects us to forgive those who insult or mistreat us.

Our Love for God Is Expressed When We Confront Those Christians Who Still Enjoy Sinning (Romans 6:1; 1 Corinthians 5:1-2; Jude 22-23)
As we read the gospels, we see Jesus confronting the Jewish religious leaders with their evil ways. The Jewish leaders had so corrupted God's Law that evil had become good and good had become evil. Jesus rejected their "version" of religion and called them back to God's truth. Instead of following Jesus, they saw Him as a threat and had the Roman occupation forces kill Him.

When we see our fellow Christians corrupting God's law and enjoying sun, we need to follow Jesus' example and confront them. It should be done in love, hoping they will leave their sinful ways and return to God. Some will listens while others will not. Regardless of whether or not they change, we still have an obligation to confront them to return to their first love.

Next Article: Conclusion

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