Top ten lists are very popular. If you do an online search, you can find one on almost any topic. Today I’d be likely to click on an article that says “Top Ten Christmas Gifts for Teenage Girls” or “Princess Kate’s Top Ten Style Tips.” (I’ve been a royal family follower since Princess Diana came on the scene when I was a girl!)
In the passage below, a scribe came to Jesus wanting to know what the number one commandment was. Jesus actually gave him the top two.
“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” ~Mark 12:28-31
That’s the number one commandment for me to follow.
I remember I once started studying the Bible, looking for commandments to follow. After all, as we’ll look at later in this series, Jesus said if you love me, you’ll keep my commandments. I do love Him, so I want to know what His commandments are so that I can do them.
Yet it’s clearly spelled out for us in this passage. The greatest commandment is to love Him.
This love I’m to have for God involves my all. The word “all” is included before each of the words heart, soul, mind, and strength. So every part of me should be engaged. I should be completely consumed with loving God, fully committed to it.
So what might it look like to love God to these extremes?
We love God in our motives and intentions. Every thing we do should be motivated by our love for Him. Admittedly, we’re not always going to do that perfectly, but that’s our goal.
I Samuel 16:7 says that man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord sees the heart. It’s such a sweet thought to me that even when I fail again at doing the right thing, God knows my “want-to.” By the help of the Holy Spirit, I can turn those “want-to’s” into following through on His command to love Him above all else.
The deepest part of us – our feelings and emotions – are to be fully involved in loving God. This is our spiritual side that worships and praises God.
I believe music is a great tool here. “Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,” as Paul says in Ephesians 5:19, are a way to express my love for God to Him, and to others. Have you ever had tears come to your eyes when a particular song touches your soul? I think it’s a foretaste of heaven when we seize those moments to praise God.
Prayer fits here, too. All too often I find myself rushing to my prayer requests instead of taking time first to tell God I love Him. Do you say that to God often? I know how much I like hearing my teenagers tell me they love me, and I’m convicted about making sure I tell God, my Heavenly Father, that simple phrase.
We should love God in our thoughts. A great method for doing this is meditation. We can meditate on God’s character, His promises in His Word, the way we’ve seen Him act faithfully in our lives.
It’s our minds that all too often can lead us away from loving God to loving possessions or people or our ambitions or just our own selfish way above Him. That leads me to consider how I’m spending my time. What am I filling my mind with most days – things that point me to God or things that turn my focus to the world around me?
Let’s love God with all that we have. We don’t want to be weak in showing our love for Him, to give up easily when difficult times come. Our love for God needs to endure, to not shrivel up at the first sign of a trial. It’s going to take courage to love God, to face down attacks from Satan – and even our own flesh.
It comes down to a single-hearted focus. Our love can’t be divided. We want to love God above all else – all people, all things…even above myself. Loving God first means submitting every part of myself to Him and allowing His will to direct my life and my decisions.