Learning to Love

Week 4, Day 5

Learning to Love God so that you can actually Love Others

By: Steve Pratt

Matthew 22:37

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

As both a dad of two young girls and a high school teacher, I have a deep admiration for raising the next generation to be kind, selfless, and respectful towards others. Those of you who are parents know that this work of cultivating a kind heart in a child is, seriously, never ending.  As I read this passage in preparing this message, I was reminded that--yet again--even my noblest efforts in raising children is missing the point.

When you look at this famous passage where Jesus summarizes all of the Law and the Prophets, he chooses his works carefully: “You shall love the Lord your God…”It’s that one word: love. This one word matters.  God didn’t say to serve the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. He didn’t even use more pious verbs like “give glory”, “honor” or even “respect.” (What teacher parent doesn’t use “respect” a hundred times a day?)  Instead, Jesus made it something much, much harder to do because love has to be genuine. You can’t force or fake real love. It’s either the real deal or not there at all.

The main idea is this: God doesn’t want our forced attitudes of obedience.  He doesn’t want disciples whose top priority is obedience and respecting who He is. Instead, He wants our willing affection.  Just like me when I’m being honest with my parenting, I want my daughters to know--deep down in their soul--that they are loved and that they would love me.  Everything else trickles down from there. If that foundation is real, then they will obey me because they love me, not because they “have to.”

Reflection Questions

Do you desire to love your neighbor?  Great. But what does God desire of you, more than any acts of kindness or love you can show someone?  How’s your love for the person of God? Take some time to pray and meditate on Jesus, the image of the invisible God in whom all the fullness of God dwells (Col 1).