Love You More…
“…Of all the commandments, ‘which is the most important? 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.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31 (NIV)
It seems as if we are living in a day and time when everyone wants more than what we really have or care to give. More money, more opportunities, more chances and, of course, more time are always in high demand. While we may or may not be able to give people these things, there is one thing, which we should be bending over backwards to give and that is –more love.
Jesus says that giving more love to God and to our fellowman is to fulfill the greatest two commandments ever given. Interestingly, these two commandments are contingent upon one another. First, we are to love God. The Old Testament instruction found in Deuteronomy 6:5 says that we are to love God with all of our heart, soul and strength (NIV). In the New Testament passage found in Mark however, Jesus adds another element to the command to love – He adds mind.
Essentially, this is a call by Jesus for us to give God more. “More,” in this case refers not only to quantity, but also more importantly to quality. Love with your heart, but don’t stop there, love also with your soul. Love with your soul, but don’t stop there, love also with your strength. In fact, love with all the strength you have, but still don’t stop there; love also with your mind. You see, a love that does not come from the mind is devoid of a critical element that gives it its very essence. Our love should be deliberate, purposeful and intelligent. The type of love that comes on a whim, based merely on first sight or fulfilled promises, can go just as easily. A love that isn’t based upon a conscious decision to stay, most likely will find many reasons to go. Don’t settle for giving or receiving that kind of love. Let your confession be, I love you with all that I am; all that I have and with all that I ever will be. Love God more.
But, second, once we love God, we have fulfilled the prerequisite needed in order to love our neighbors and ourselves. We throw the idea of loving others around so casually these days; which is noble at best, but daunting at worst. For the truth of the matter is, it will be impossible for us to love anyone, including ourselves, if we have not first accepted the love of God – as shown most perfectly through the person of Jesus Christ. I know that this is not welcomed news for those of us who are seeking to navigate this life without a relationship with God. Nevertheless, since God is love (I John 4:9); it follows that we need God if we will have any chance of getting this love thing right. For, until we see even ourselves through the eyes of God’s perfect love, we will not be able to appropriate God’s love correctly to anyone.
I have always thought it strange that Jesus tells us to base our love for our brother and sister upon how we love ourselves. You would think the admonition would be to love others better than we love ourselves. But, in actuality, a command to love others better than we love ourselves would have been no more than an invitation for hypocrisy. We all know that there are very few people that we are going to treat better than we treat ourselves and thankfully, God doesn’t expect us to do that anyway. God doesn’t want us to be superhuman; God asks us to be humane. God wants us to take our cues from Christ; making Him our standard and model for living. And, only the One, who totally disregarded the unwarranted hatefulness of others and decided to love anyway, can truly teach us how to love. God wants us to love ourselves and our neighbors more. Whatever you may be doing now; kick it up a notch. How ever you have displayed love in the past; find a way to qualitatively and quantitatively do it better; while comparing yourself to no one other than Christ.
Today, I want you to know that I’m committed to loving more. Not because it will be easy, not because it will always make sense to do so; not even because I will always want to do it. But because Jesus told me that it was the most important thing I could do with my life and because God has already placed within me the capacity to love and to love better. I love you more; and there is nothing you can do about it.