"'The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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 12:29-30
“I love that movie!” “I love Italian food!” “Don’t you just love those shoes?” I love college football!” “I love you.” To say the word “love” is overused and misused in our culture is an understatement. In fact, it is so common that it has, in large part, lost its meaning. It is no longer a sacred word, reserved for only the deepest and most lasting emotions. It no longer carries with it a commitment to another person. It has been diluted and stripped of the power it once represented.
In the Greek language of the New Testament, there were several different words used for the word we translate in English as simply “love.” Here in Mark 12, Jesus is quoting Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 6:4-5. It is interesting that Jesus is commanding that His followers “love” God with everything in their being. He is not asking them to love God…He is demanding it. How can you command love? Over and over again I have heard the phrase, “You cannot help who you fall in love with.” If that is true, how can love be demanded?
The love that God commands in this passage is not a feeling. It is a verb, and it describes love as an act of the will…a choice we can make. The love that we have for God should not be based on feelings or circumstances. It is a choice to surrender everything we are to everything that He is. The natural way to love is based on feelings and on the behavior of someone else. This is not Christ-honoring because it does not require the presence and power of God. Anyone can love when it is easy…when it feels right and benefits self.
If our love for God is based on how we feel, or on what we see Him doing, it is superficial and will not withstand the storms of life. God’s ways are higher than ours, and His thoughts outnumber the grains of sand. What we see and understand, even as growing Christians, is finite. God is infinite. We must refuse to let circumstances dictate our devotion and faith in an all-knowing and wise God.
This is why God commands that believers love Him with full devotion. He knows that such love is an act of the will, and is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. So, the next time you say, “I love God,” take a moment and examine your heart. Do you love Him by His standards, or by your own?
Dear God, I am so grateful that Your love for me is not based on my actions, but is a choice You have made and will remain faithful to at all times. Please help me to love You in both word and deed, fully and fiercely. In Jesus’ name, amen.