Did you the know Old Testament of the Bible contains over 600 commands from God? In the first century AD, the Jewish religious leaders had studied these laws in such detail that they tell us there are 365 negative ones and 248 positive ones. The negative ones are things people should not do and the positive ones are things people should do. One day, Jesus was in a discussion with religious leaders and they asked Him to sum up all of these laws in one sentence. Sounds challenging, doesn’t it? Sounds important, doesn’t it? What is revolutionary, though, is how Jesus answered their question.
In Mark 12 Jesus says that the most important commandment is to love God with all of one’s heart, soul, mind and strength. He goes further to add that loving others is just behind this commandment. Jesus directly calls people to love God here, but you need to know that this is a recurring theme throughout the entire Bible. And, it is certainly a recurring theme in Jesus’ ministry.
So, how do you love God? That is question with many answers. We often define how we love by what others do for us. Isn’t that the way we define love when it comes to human relationships? We love family members and friends because of the way they care and provide for us. Their words or actions are their expressions of love toward us.
But often we do not define our love for God this way. We define our love for God by what we do for Him. Many of us are actually trying to earn God’s love through our obedience to Him. Instead of allowing our love for Him to drive us to obedience, we try to earn His love through obedience. Make sense? It can be a bit confusing so let me explain a little more.
Here in our Southern Kentucky culture we often think that as we attend our local church we show our love for God. There may be no joy in our going to hear the preaching of God’s word, sing praises to Him or encouraging other believers. Yet, we go because it is our duty to show God we love Him. While it is right to attend church on a regular basis (Hebrews 10:25), we are not called to go to church to show God we love Him. We are called to go to church because we love God.
Did you hear the difference?
Our action is not to earn God’s love. Our action is because of God’s love for us. We don’t act to earn God’s love. We act to express our love for God. Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Love comes first. Obedience follows. Do you love God? Don’t obey to earn His love. Obey God because you enjoy His love and want to love Him back.