28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ – Mark 12
Jesus said there is nothing more important for a person than for him or her to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
No doubt, many of us glibly and blindly say, “Okay, I’ve done this…now what? Others of us might cynically just assume that we can’t possibly completely do what is required so we don’t try. We think, “God doesn’t really mean we have to completely love him with our entire being, does he?” Maybe when I am in glory, I’ll get to work on that, but why try and work at it now? But Jesus both commands it and describes it as something comprehensive that we must assume we will be growing in all of our days. Jesus says this is the most important command. Have you meditated upon what it looks like to love God in the way Jesus described in Mark 12? I found a good summary of what Jesus means there in a book called The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification by Walter Marshall. He defines our love of God as,
The Lord is not at all loved with that love that is due to him as Lord of all, if he be not loved with all of our heart, spirit, and might. We are to love everything in him, his justice, holiness, sovereign authority, all-seeing eye, and all his decrees, commands, judgments, and all his doings. We are to love him, not only better than all other things, but singly, as only good, the fountain of goodness; and to reject all fleshly and worldly enjoyments, even our own lives, as if we hated them, when they stand in competition with our enjoyment of him, or our duty towards him. We must love him as to yield ourselves wholly up to his constant service in all things, and to his disposal of us as our absolute Lord, whether it be for prosperity or adversity, life or death. And for his sake, we are to love our neighbor, even all men, whether they be friends or foes to us; and so do to them in all things, that concern their honour, life, chastity, worldly wealth, credit, and content, whatever we would that men should do to us in the like condition (Matthew 5:12). This spiritual universal obedience is the great end, to the attainment whereof I am directing you.Walter Marshall
There is quite a bit there to chew on. Marshall, having taken his shot at an articulation of what Jesus means by the imperative that we are to love God, then offers a pastoral observation that we quickly move into the mode of promising to love God with the assumption that we are able to do it. See Israel in Exodus 19:8, “all that the LORD commands we will do.”
Our great error, however, when it comes to our loving God, is in our assumption we make. Merely assuming we can attempt this successfully or doubting its possibility, we fail to ask the question of how we can love God. Our issue is not one of activity, “just get started.” But do we even have the ability to get started loving God? If not, how?
The how? question is THE question. The bible answers throughout that no matter our present condition or our experience, the only chance any of us have at loving God is if God causes it. See what Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 3:5,
5 May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.2 Thessalonians 3:5
The problem for a Christian who has the desire to love God (unlike a non-believer) is that we are faced with our inability to love God. That is why Paul plainly said that the Lord must direct our hearts toward the love of God. It is through his moving our hearts to behold the love of God particularly in the work of Christ for us (Galatians 2:20) that our hearts are enabled- spiritually empowered to love God.
I hope this directs your prayers today. First, in the content of your prayers. It is vitally important that you pray to God that you might love him, as this is your most important responsibility, according to Jesus. However, according to the scriptures, your prayers must, secondly, be directed to God as he is the only one who is capable of directing our hearts. That’s why Paul says, “May the Lord.”
Our destiny, our days, our delights, all of us, rests on God’s activity in and for us. That’s why Paul says, “May the Lord.” May the Lord our God direct our hearts. He is able and willing. Let us, according to the love of God and steadfastness of Christ for us, boldly approach his throne and ask for his direction of our hearts.
What did you appreciate about the love of God as defined by Marshall? Comment below, but most importantly tell the Lord in prayer as an act of love toward Him. Will you pray for the author of this blog post that the Lord may direct his heart? He is praying that God may direct all hearts of those who read these words to the faithful love of God in Christ.