Dr. Tony Evans said, “Our God is a covenant making and covenant keeping God and every covenant has an order.”
God is certainly a God of order as is clear not only in all of creation but is stated very plainly in His Word, The Bible. We would do well to study, learn and apply His order to our lives and relationships.
Jesus Himself gave us a precise order when it comes to love. The religious leaders were trying to capture Jesus in his own words so they set Him up with what they thought would be an impossible question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Matthew 22:36
LOVE HAS AN ORDER AND PRIORITY…HOW ROMANTIC? IT REALLY IS!
Jesus not only gave an answer that blew the religious leaders away but did so in a succinct order that gave them (and us) clear direction in how to love and live. He said, “‘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.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-39
We should pay close attention to 3 words in particular, “first,” “greatest” and “second.” Why? They signify tremendous importance and priority order for us to learn how to love and teach others to do the same. WE DON’T BEGIN BY LOVING OTHERS (common default in many churches). WE BEGIN BY GETTING TO KNOW AND LOVE GOD!
The ordering of this in the original language (Greek) informs us that the priority is of absolute importance. If we do not first love God with all we are then we cannot begin to love who we are in Him. Only when we take the time to know and love Him does He reveal who we are by His design and learn to love ourselves. THEN we can begin to give ourselves away just as Christ did in loving others.
In 1 John, we see that everything comes from and begins with His Love for us and then His love in us to others – 1 John 4:7-11, 15-21 (emph. v. 19). Jesus has given us an order and priority to love and we can only love as He overflows through us!
This is why so much of our service may be rooted in the flesh rather than in God and His Spirit. We allow and give very little time and effort to teaching and discipling new believers to know and love God above all else and totally…body, mind, soul and spirit. Where’s our love spring from if we do not first love Him?
Here is what you will see in your life as you follow Christ’s priority of Love in the Greatest Commandments…
1) You begin to realize that you can only love because of His Love for you (1 John 4:19) – He is Love and is the only true Source of Love;
2) In receiving His love, you are now capable of loving Him with all you are and you desire to grow in doing so;
3) As you receive and grow in His Love you begin to understand you are defined by His Truth and can now love who you are in Christ rather than trying to do so through the world’s false idea of love based on rating, ranking and comparing;
4) Finally, as you mature in your love for God and self, you begin to understand that loving others is giving yourself away for their sake…so they can know His Love!
LOVE IS COMMITMENT…FEELINGS ARE REAL BUT SECONDARY
This is LOVE and it doesn’t come naturally – see Luke 10:25-37. The best we can do apart from God in Christ is a “pretty good lust” and it falls so far short of all God has for us to experience in His Real Love! Think about it?
God’s Love is real because it gives completely without demanding anything in return. His is the greatest example and definition of Love. If you’re familiar with the story you’ll know who said it, where He was and what He was enduring in that moment. If not, take a few moments to read the story in Luke 23 (also Matthew 27:11-44; Mark 15:1-41; John 19:1-37). Think about the real Love shown in these few words in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Let me ask you this as you think about what love is and how you’ve lived it in your life and relationships? Is it based on feelings? On reciprocity…give and take? Or is it based on His kind of love in and through you?
IF LOVE WAS A FEELING?
One simple question should suffice to help us understand what love really is and why we can’t discern or live it apart from Him…Based on the story in the Scripture texts above, if love was a feeling where would we be?
How do you think Jesus felt socially? The crowd cried out, “Crucify Him!”
How do you think He felt relationally? His 12 best friends all abandoned Him.
What about mentally and emotionally? He sweats drops of blood because of the great anguish that He knew He had to face for us.
How did he feel physically? To this day, crucifixion is one of the most horrific and painful deaths a person can experience.
Finally, how did He feel spiritually? “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”
So I’ll ask again, if love were (or is) a feeling, where would we be when it comes to salvation and knowing God? We would be lost!
But Praise The Lord, He persevered, He stayed the course, He remained committed in spite of the pain and suffering and all He endured…because Love is commitment. He is Love! And we can know Love…and love others!
Let’s begin to help people see His kind of Love, help new believers to grow in His Love and in His priority order regarding Love, so we can love and serve them out of an overflow of His Love for us!
Then we can send out disciples who don’t just serve but know what it means to serve from a heart of Love…His Love! This is how others will know we are His and know that He loves them and so do we!
Contact us with questions, comments, if you desire to know The Lord or be encouraged and/or mentored in your life and relationships! It’s completely FREE!
Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – Has your concept of love been defined by emotions or the Truth of God’s Word? What would those closest to you say?
Love and Lordship…Action Item – Take time this week to read the Scriptures from this article with the understanding of Love as a commitment rather than feelings. Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!