Thursday, July 21, 2011

Measure Your Love For God

We have been taught from the time we were young that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. This teaching has been repeated so often that we are almost numb to its shocking and radical nature. The truth of the matter is this: if you want to measure your love for God, test and evaluate your love for others. Then you will get an idea of the answer. There are some mind-blowing implications from the teaching "love your neighbor as yourselves," here are a few:

1. It comes on the heels of another command, the first great commandment, to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37). They are connected together and inseparable. You cannot divide these two commandments from one another because they hinge on one another. Love God and love others.

2. The love we are expected and commanded to love others with is outside of our natural capacity to produce. The love we give others, that God commands and is satisfied with, comes from Him, not ourselves. This is why we must start with loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, because it is then that we can love others. This is why the two commands are connected together. It begins with God, then moves to others.

3. We cannot say "I love God," but fail to love others. Because the two commandments are tied together, it does not allow for you to say you love God but not love others. It also means you cannot say "I love others" but fail to love God. You will not love others as you have been commanded because it will be all self-driven and self-willed. If you have no relationship with God, you will be very selfish in your love with others because love is from God (1 John 4:7).

4. A failure to love our neighbor as ourselves is not a problem with our relationship with our neighbor, but with God. At the end of the day, our love for our neighbor is a reflection of our love for God. In Christian circles we love to say, "I love them, I just don't like them." That is our "Christian" way of saying, "I don't love them." We feel like it excuses us of sin, and that's what being unloving to our neighbor is - sin. 

If we say we love God, then we must love our neighbor. If we truly love God, then we WILL love our neighbor as ourselves. It will be a natural overflow. 

Pray this prayer: Father, I recognize today that I am incapable of loving others as you have commanded me to. I am sinful, selfish, prideful, and often love conditionally. Forgive me Lord. I turn from this wickedness today and cast myself upon the mercy of Christ. I need you Lord. Strengthen me, help me, and shape me into the person who is able to love because I have been loved by You. Thank you for not casting me aside when I sin. Thank you for the love you demonstrated for me when you gave Jesus for me, even when I was still a sinner. Open my eyes today to see ways in which I can love as you have loved me. I pray for the Holy Spirit to empower me with a love that can only be supplied by You. I pray this in Jesus name, Amen. 

Offer a thought: When you look at how you love others, what does it reveal about your love for God? In what ways do you think the definition of love in our society differs from the Bible's definition to love?

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