“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
[ [ M A T T H E W 22 : 37 ] ]
Have you ever noticed that the greatest commandment is not to memorize the bible? You can memorize the whole bible, but without LOVE you will do more damage with that knowledge than good [1 Corinthians 8:1].
>> So what is the most important thing to God? This is important to know!
The greatest commandment is to LOVE. To love God and love others. So, in order to do these things we must:
1. know what LOVE means
2. know what it doesn’t mean
3. understand God’s love
4. understand how to love others
>> What is “love” anyway?? If this is the most important thing to the Lord, it is important to know what it is exactly.
1. [ [ DEFINITION OF LOVE ] ]
Take a look at Jesus. He is LOVE. If you want the purest definition of it, look at Him. If you want the purest example of it, look at what He did. How did He display love? He performed the most difficult, uncomfortable, and self-sacrificial act of love by dying on the cross in order to eternally benefit you and me.
Love is doing the right, difficult, uncomfortable, self-sacrificial and healthy thing in order to benefit others. Love is an action that values others by meeting their needs (defined by the truth of God’s word and not how they themselves define their needs) regardless of your feelings. It is done in kindness and truth, for the good and future benefit of others, out of obedience to God.
“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails…” [1 Corinthians 13:4-8].
I want to take a second to point out that there is a difference between kindness and love. It is always good to be kind, but kindness is not love. Kindness is a part of love, in addition to many other things. Kindness without truth is not love. That’s being nice. And we all know very well that it is possible to be nice to someone without caring the slightest bit about them or their needs. Love is more than smiling, speaking in a gentle tone of voice and complimenting someone on their outfit. Love is offering health to others.
2. [ [ BLIND LOVE ] ]
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and alldiscernment,”Philippians 1:9
When “LOVE” lacks knowledge and discernment, that is what we call BLIND LOVE. Beware of this! It is based solely on feelings and is not genuine love. It’s people-pleasing. You’re either pleasing yourself or you’re pleasing someone else. Knowledge and discernment will reveal if the way you love others falls into the category of pleasing GOD or man. Remember that love is meeting the needs of others for their eternal benefit. When you are caught up in blind love, you do not seek to meet a person’s real needs, only their wants. This is dangerous in any kind of relationship, because you believe you’re helping them or meeting their needs according to what they say their needs are rather than what God says their needs are.
An example of this: when a boyfriend tells his girlfriend that she will not be meeting his emotional needs unless she sleeps with him, so she believes that in order to love him best, she needs to meet this need. This “love” relationship lacks knowledge and discernment. Wisdom says intimacy is only blessed in the realms of marriage, while sex before marriage causes insecurity and leads to further sin.
So, if the way you love someone else is at all contrary to the truth of God’s word and displeasing to Him, you are caught up in blind love. It leads you down a path of compromise and chaos as it tries to justify sin. Idolatry, co-dependency, compromise, strife, abuse, and impurity are some common symptoms of blind love. A lot people are stuck in impure, co-dependent and abusive relationships, because they have convinced themselves that they “love” each other. Renew your thinking (wash your minds with the truth of the Word) and pray for wisdom and discernment in this. The enemy would love for you to believe relationships in blind love are good, normal and satisfying. This is where I tell you,
no, enough seeking love, just seek Love.
If a relationship is keeping you from emotional, physical and spiritual health/safety, that is not a relationship that is founded on Love (capital “L”). We have to choose Love over our feelings! Because your emotional attachment will tell you to stay when wisdom says to go. We need to choose the truth of God’s word over what we think is best. Forget what the world calls love! Renew your mind. Pray for discernment and knowledge as you love others. If God is showing you that you are caught up in relationships or friendships that do not line up with God’s definition of love and they in fact keep you from a close relationship with Him, THANK Him for revealing it you, and make things right! You want to love people in truth, not blindly.
Quick exercise: Look back to the definition of love. Now think of a few of your relationships (romantic or not), and see if you are loving them according to your needs defined by you, them or the Lord.
3. [ [ GOD’s LOVE ] ]
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
The absolute most loving act you can offer someone is laying down your life for them. Jesus did that for us on the cross in order for us to walk free from the debt of our sin! The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and He took our place. And He took our place before we even chose Him. He died for the people that hated Him, spoke evil of Him and crucified Him. The key thing to grasp is He did that selfless act of love before we even wanted it, or knew we needed it. That’s love!
He offered us an undeserved sacrifice. Yes, we are unworthy, but He saw us as worth it.
A child that wants to play with fire does not understand why their parents tell them, “no” out of love. A parent is thinking of their child’s benefit to keep them from hurting themselves above pleasing the child’s want. The parent knows something that the child doesn’t know yet: fire hurts! And out of love, He is attempting to keep us on the right path.
He will even allow certain hardships to enter our lives in order to keep us from the path that leads to death or in order to build us up to grow stronger. His every act is good and He has a plan beyond what we can see and we just need to trust that He is LOVE and everything is for our eternal benefit. The next time you go through a hard time, make sure to thank Him for loving you. Because the pain is just a reminder that He is doing something great in you! Reject the thoughts that you are being punished or that God is mad at you! He is on your side. He wants good for you. He loves you! And His love is beyond our understanding.
4. [ [ LOVE OTHERS ] ]
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”1 Peter 4:8
Love is meeting people where they are. Never look down on anyone with haughty or prideful eyes for being where they are. God Himself looked down on YOU with eyes of grace when you were in your deepest sins. So, as you meet with the hurting, angry, bitter, broken, lonely, anxious, insecure, cynical, apathetic, sensitive, frustrating or perfectly healthy people in this world, realize where they are in their life, and love them exactly how they need to be loved. That is what Jesus would do.
Sometimes love calls for you to have a hard talk to set healthy boundaries with a person. Sometimes it calls for rebuke. Sometimes it calls for encouragement. Sometimes it calls you to be extra generous in your giving to meet another’s need. Sometimes it calls for you to forgive the very person who hurt you the most. Sometimes it calls for you to be a listening ear. Sometimes it just calls for you to pray for someone. No matter what the type of relationship you have with someone, romantic or just a friendship, always do your best to leave people with their lives being more blessed then when you met them. That is your goal, to bless them by the way you love them. And this can only be done if you love them by God’s definition of love.
Remember to love those that the world says isn’t worth it. Love those that are hardest to love, because they need it most. Shock people by loving those that have deeply hurt you. Love them by forgiving them. Don’t gossip about them, but instead pray for them. This is how you love them God’s way. This is the opposite what the world will tell you. Loving someone is so much more than the fuzzy warm feelings. When we truly love someone, we want the best for that person and that sometimes means setting healthy boundaries, saying “no,” letting God take control of their life, or removing yourself from the relationship in order to keep yourself healthy.
Deny yourself, think what will benefit others, meet their needs, offer them hope, offer them health, be kind, and be truthful. Love them. The difference that you want people see in you is the way you LOVE (the true definition of it)