“Jesus answered, “The first and greatest command is, Worship God alone; love the Lord your God with all your being.’ The second is: ‘love who you are in Christ so you can love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31 (my paraphrase)

Jesus’ answer regarding the greatest commandments should not only inform us but direct us as to how we are to love. By proclaiming that there is a first and greatest and then a second which is like it…but second…this should guide us in everything we do when it comes to loving God and others.

The beauty of the Greek language in which the New Testament was written is that, unlike the English language, it is very precise. Why wouldn’t God choose to send Jesus in today’s time in history when His message could spread like wildfire through the digital world? God’s Word tells us that He came at just the perfect time (Ephesians 1:9-10). You think God knew of the extremely relativistic culture and language that dominates the globe today. Of course He did.

All of this to simply magnify the relevance and priority of how we are to love…

1) We can only love because of His love first given to us (1 John 4:19);

2) Even though we are to show God’s love by the way we love others, this does not dismiss that the first command is to learn to know and love God and this is a continual growing in love for Him throughout our lifetime (Mark 12:29-30);

3) Know and love who we are in Christ (Mark 12:31) and now we are equipped and maturing in Christ so we can;

4) Love others as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31) and as He loved us (John 13:34-35)…ultimately His love that we are to model is giving of yourself for the sake of others.

Why do I continue to press this issue? For two reasons…the first is that we practically ignore the first and greatest command and fail to disciple new, young believers in helping them mature and grow to know and love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. In so doing, the second reason follows that we constantly send new believers out to love others as “nearly empty infants” trying to love all others…ultimately in their flesh.

I pray that Christ’s Church, His true disciples and followers, will take to heart the priority of His commands so we will be able to show the world what His Love looks like because we have loved according to His Word and Covenant Order.

Do you know Christ and what it means in Him to even be able to love God with all you are? Are you trying to love others without spending time to know and love God in order to love from the True Source of Love in Christ?

How are you making the time to know and love God? Time in His Word? Prayer? Listening to His Spirit? Take to heart God’s Word for the preciseness and priority that His Truth is expressing to us and you’ll find that it is His Love that makes all of this possible.

We continue with a simple but profound Truth building on yesterday’s priority of commands in God’s Covenant Order.

If we’re not spending time daily to know and Love The Creator of the world and every one of us as well, then what is your source of Love for yourself and others (John 7:38)?

As you spend time in God’s Word, prayer and listening to Him you can’t help but soak in His Love, love Him more…and know and love who you are in Christ.

Remember, Love’s not a feeling but a commitment, a choosing and act of the will over and over because those who love Him obey His commands (John 14:15). Love is obedience, keeping His commands because they are what is best for us as The Loving God is The One who has given them to us. Remember, from last week’s post, everything He does is Truthful and Loving! He can do no other!

There are hundreds of commands in Scripture from this Loving God, for our good. There are no demands because love must be a deliberate choice of your free will by faith, expressing your love for Him (1 John 5:2-4). This carries over into knowing and loving who you are in Christ (more on this in future posts).

I share this message with churchgoers, prisoners, addicts, and on and on, and I ask the question, “As you grew up and went to church did it feel like constant demands?” Nearly every single person replies, “Yes!”

Demanded or forced obedience is never love. Only willing submission is love.

This impacts who you are in Christ and how you build, nurture and live out every other relationship in Him. If He is Lord of your life then it must show by your willing submission to Him (Love for Him) in every other relationship. True Love willingly gives itself away for the sake of the other.

Remember if we do not spend time to learn to love Him then we are empty and cannot truly love ourselves and others.

Where are you when it comes to knowing and loving God? Christ has made a way for you to be in that loving relationship (John 3:16; John 15:13). Have you received Him as Savior and Lord so you can know His Love and love him in return? Only then can you love yourself…and others…as He has loved us.

Loving self seems contradictory to Godly Love and unfortunately as we’ve allowed the culture to define and dictate what love is that is correct. When it’s based on natural, fleshly feelings and emotions, it becomes loving self for the sake of self and that is actually selfishness and lust.

This is why we can’t love apart from God and Christ in us. We must know His Love and learn to love Him before we can truly love at all…ourselves or others. His Love (agape) literally means that we prefer Him above all else because He is Love. As we grow in this real Love then we find that it has very little to do with what we get from it because we are assured of all we need from Him.

His model in creation and in Christ is a Love that is sacrificial, unconditional and self-giving. He loves us even when we don’t love in return and is always waiting with open arms for us to turn to Him no matter what we’ve done. It is always for the sake and good of the other.

When we learn to know and love who we are in Christ (Ephesians 2:10) then we can love ourselves to the point that we can freely give ourselves sacrificially for the sake of and good or others.

The key is to know and Love Him so that your identity is in who you are in Him and not let the world and those of the world rate, rank and compare you, giving you a false identity in a fallen world.

By His grace and through the faith we’ve been given, you can know Him as Savior and Lord and that makes all the difference in knowing His Love, knowing and loving who you are (Romans 12:3) so you can love others…but it is a choice of loving obedience that you make. Do you want to know Him so you can truly know and love who you are?

Love God and love yourself—the self that Christ recreated you to be—God desires that you do this so you can show others His Love through you.

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – Christ left all the glories of Heaven, became flesh by becoming us as a human being, faced all that we face and gave His life as the perfect sacrifice…that’s what your worth and He defines who you are! Have you accepted that no matter what the world says… or are you still trying to prove who you are by the world’s broken and deceived standards?   

Love and Lordship…Action Items

  1. Read the Scriptures in this article and ask The Holy Spirit to teach you.
  2. Journal what you’ve learned about love in this post. 
  3. Spend time in God’s Word and prayer and ask The Holy Spirit to show you who you are in Christ and all He has in store for you.
  4. Spend time in God’s Word and prayer and ask The Holy Spirit to show you how to love who you are in Christ