Last week I asked the question, “Why Start Here?” meaning why start with what is described in Matthew 22:38 as the “first and great” commandment? And I postulated that perhaps our love for the Lord was not what it might be, or should be. That it is easy for our love for the Lord to grow cold, as in the case of the Ephesian church in Revelations 2. Notice there, that Jesus is addressing that issue to a whole church!
In Hebrew usage, the heart was regarded as the seat of thought and volition. That is why Proverbs 4:23 is so critical in this discussion as well, “Above all things, guard your heart, for out of it are the issues of life.” Therefore it is out of this center of our “willing” and our “thinking” that love for God is to flow. Love for God is to flow out of all of our faculties, our “heart, soul, and mind,” The question in Matthew 22 was meant as a test, postulated by one of the “lawyers” from the Pharisees. It was a “religious” question that brings out, not a “religious” answer, but a life answer. As I see it, Jesus’ answer is far deeper than most of us understand.
How is it possible to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and soul, and mind?” Is it a matter of religious will? That’s kind of what the Pharisee was looking for. A keeping of some set of standards and rules that will “prove” that I love God? The initial answer for most of us would be to say, “certainly not!” Yet, again and again we find ourselves falling into that very subtle trap of gauging our love for God by what we do. Now don’t get me wrong! Certainly the second commandment shows that loving our neighbor is equally important to the Lord. And certainly true love always demonstrates itself in action. That is the very nature of the agape love of God, that it took action on our behalf.
But I want to dig a little deeper. I want to propose that to live out the first and great commandment means that we must first KNOW our God, and that as we know Him more, our love for Him will grow in us, and in our expression to others. But our love for God must begin in who He is. Not in our selves. It must begin with our coming to know Him in deeper and more intimate ways. Not just with an intellectual assent to the theological precepts of the “attributes” of God, but in intimate, personal experiences of His personhood as they apply to every area in my life and my life experiences.This is what feeds and grows us to be “God-Hungry” believers.
Then, out of that passionate, experiential, transformed adoration of who He is, our love for Him is expressed in my heart, my affections, my soul, my life choices, and my mind, how I think on a daily basis.
We will explore this further. But for now, take some time and again, get away and ask if your love for God is growing out of your own very personal and intimate encounters with who He is in His very character. How is that happening for you? Is it growing?