No commandments better than loving God, others
I’m one of “those” people. I’ve been a Christian my entire life.
Went to church every single Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night Bible study.
Every summer attended church camp and two weeks of Vacation Bible School. Learned to sing and play guitar with every page in the hymnal. Memorizing scripture was fun for me, and I learned how to write great stories using the examples of the stories in the Bible. Like I said, I am one of “those” people. I even know that the second candle on the Advent Wreath is to remind us to love.
So what do I do with verses like 1st John 4:7 where we are told to love one another?
I struggle, for it has taken me a lot longer to learn the lesson about love than it did for me to memorize scriptures or sing all the verses of all the hymns. Can anyone relate?
Loving others doesn’t mean we like others, for not everyone is likable. We tend to love only those who love us back. We tend to love others sporadically, for we love when things are going well, and we stop loving when things are going not so well. We love others quickly, then let time and circumstance alter our love. We let our human selfish and sinful natures keep us from loving others.
Simply put, loving others is hard to do.
But even more simply put, how we love others is based on how we love God. Do we really realize that in God and God alone do “we live and move and have our being?” (Acts 17:28). Can we fully feel the love God has for us, knowing that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord?” (Romans 8:38-39.)
If we accept that God loves us that much, that He sent his Son to die to redeem us, that He wants us to live with Him for eternity, then we must also accept this: He does the same for others, too. He doesn’t choose whom He loves. He loves us all. He loves even the very ones we don’t love.
Loving others is not a suggestion. Love is not something we can do on our own. Love is not easy. Love is not based on emotions that change from day to day. Love is not based on circumstances that all too quickly can build barriers between us. Love comes when we first learn to love God.
In Mark 12:28-34, when Jesus was asked about what the most important commandment was, His answer was quick and decisive without a second’s hesitation.
“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Then Jesus wrapped it all up with these words: “There is no commandment greater than these.”
We must love God and love others, folks. There is no commandment greater.