Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | March 16, 2015

March 16, 2015 “No Sappy Love Story”

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:36-39)

Good Morning Everyone!

At some time or another during the evening as time permits, it is not at all unusual to find the television set in our home tuned to either a home renovation show or a sappy love story…both favorites of my bride. I confess some level of interest in both, but not to the level of my beloved…to each his or her own! Last night was no exception. Last night was “sappy love story” night. In many of these stories, the characters that are the focus of the romance are usually involved with, engaged to, about to marry the wrong partner. Everyone watching the film really knows who the “right” love interest is and inevitably, so does the heretofore beguiled main character. It just takes some time for him or her to see the error of their misplaced affection, but it all works out in the end. Such is the depiction of “true love” Hollywood style.

By contrast, love as defined in scripture is neither sappy nor romantic. In fact, it is not really even a “choice”, as such, but is, in fact, a command…and not simply a command, but the greatest commandment! There is to be no misguided placement of our deepest affection. It is to be directed completely…heart, soul, and mind…to God and God alone. As I meditate upon this response of Jesus to the question,“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?, I am stunned by Jesus’ response, though I have heard it many times. He says, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the greatest and first commandment.” To love God is not optional…it is commanded. On the surface, this seems a bit harsh. How can love be commanded? In the case of loving other people, Jesus tells us “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This, too, is commanded of us by the Law of God. The greatest command is similar to the first of the Ten Commandments, which says, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” God is to hold the highest position in our hearts. No one else is so deserving. No one else has demonstrated the nature of love like Him. To love Him is the very essence of our lives. To love another ahead of Him is to travel down a path that leads to sorrow. Yet, that is our heart’s inclination. We chase after other “gods”, and do not obey this greatest commandment. I confess that I do not love God with all my heart, soul, and mind. Oh, I’d like to think I do, but my thoughts and actions prove otherwise. And what of the second commandment? Do I love others as I love myself? Not really. I usually look out for myself first, and do nice things every now and then for someone else. The closest I come to loving others as I love myself is with my family members…my mother, my bride, my children and grandchildren. But even there, I often place my own interests above theirs. So I have broken both the greatest and second greatest commandments time and again. What am I to do? I have redefined “love”. Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias says this of love:

“Love is a command, not just a feeling. Somehow, in the romantic world of music and theater we have made love to be what it is not. We have so mixed it with beauty and charm and sensuality and contact that we have robbed it of its higher call of cherishing and nurturing.” 

I have failed to obey these commandments, as have we all. BUT…nonetheless, I am loved by the very God I have disobeyed. Though I have chased after other desires, though I have failed in the ‘cherishing and nurturing” department time after time, still He loves me and brings me back, wooing me with his sweet song of redemption and restoration. All my sins and failures are washed away and I am clothed in His righteousness…covered in his grace…lifted high by his never-failing love. I understand that his commands are for my benefit, and I shall once again strive to obey. Let’s pray!

Holy and Righteous are Your commands, O Lord, all designed for my benefit. Chasten me, Lord, when I stumble, and set my feet on a right path in this new day, for I ask it in Jesus’ wonderful Name. Amen!

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