A Resolve to Love
Matthew 22:36-40 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[d] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[e] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Typically, most Americans commit to a practice of changing a determined portion of their lifestyle in order to “resolve” something they feel they can improve on. Usually you hear of short lived resolutions to lose weight, eat healthier, or get back into shape. What’s not so typical is hearing of a resolution to improve our relationship with God, or our Christian brothers and sisters.
In order to become like Christ, we must strive to be like him in every way and every day. Our commitment must be unwavering, stronger than any force physical or spiritual. We must emulate his life in our very own by the way we think, act, and feel. Jesus taught us that loving God is the first commandment. Not just “loving” him, but LOVING him. Matthew 22 says with all your HEART… all your SOUL… all your MIND… and Mark’s gospel adds STRENGTH. Again, our commitment must be unwavering, stronger than any force physical or spiritual. Second our Lord taught that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus lived and taught love. It’s the most important thing that we can do as his followers on this Earth. Verse 40 spells it out clear as day: “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” If we cannot love, it is impossible to even try to follow any other commandment God has given us.
Sometimes this love requires that we take a moment to correct a brother or sister, or expose an evil work. But all too often we forget about the word love and immediately reach out and grasp the word judge. Sometimes I fear (especially including myself) that our motivation for pointing out a flaw in a brother, is simply nothing more than trying to feel justified about flaws in our own life. There were times in Jesus’ life when a sinner was brought forth in order that he might pronounce judgment and condemnation, yet there was nothing more than love found in his presence. One such instance was when the woman was caught in adultery (Mark 8) and brought before Jesus by the scribes and the Pharisees. The accusers cited law stating that the woman must be stoned to death for her sin, and transgression of the law. In their attempt to trap Jesus, they could not have ever planned for the amazing love and wisdom that our Savior showed. After they had asked him more than once, he stood up and simply said “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” All were convicted of their conscience, and went their own way. After all had left, Jesus looked and saw the woman was still there. He pronounced that he did not condemn her and told her to go on her way sinning no more. The really interesting part is that Jesus was the only man that was standing there without sin. He was the only one that was righteous enough to follow through with the condemnation! Yet he did not. His overwhelming love for this woman, his very own creation, drove him to love first not judge first.
Now, before we get carried away and you think that I am telling you that all judgment is wrong, think again. Jesus also used very harsh words with the very ones that were trying to trap him, and condemn this woman. He called them “Snakes” and “Brood of Vipers” on many different circumstances. The difference however, is that Jesus ascribed unsurpassing worth to every single person on this planet. He did nothing out of loathing or self gain. The contrast with us is that we are sometimes too quick to pronounce our own judgment on a person simply because we don’t love them, or we secretly wish evil upon them. Sometimes it is just because it makes us feel better about our own downfalls. Whatever the case may be, we are called to love first, and judge second.
Sometimes, it can be incredibly tough to follow through with the kind of love God calls us to. Especially when the only love that the person in question has toward you is that they would love to see you suffer. In the end, our only example of perfect love is Christ. His sacrifice on the cross spells it all out for us. “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5.) Look at the terminology there… “ungodly.” Would you die for someone who was totally the opposite of everything you are? Someone who would love to see you suffer? Christ did. That is the love that we are to emulate. We are to live, breathe, sleep and devour it. People should know that we are Christ’s because of the amazing love that we show! Before we pronounce bible based judgment from God on a person, we must love them. In Mark 10, Jesus looked at the rich young ruler and LOVED him before telling him what was required of him before he could inherit eternal life.
Hate the sin, love the sinner. Let us resolve to emulate Jesus for the rest of our lives.
A word of encouragement.
Do you feel lost? Depressed? Alone? Scared? Sick? Hungry? Does it seem like everything in the world is trying to bring you down to the ground? Here are several bible verses to help strengthen and encourage you:
Psalm 46:1-3 (New King James Version) 1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
Isaiah 41:10 (New King James Version) 10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Psalm 55:22 (New King James Version) 22 Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
Psalm 62:6 (New King James Version) 6 He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.
1 Peter 5:6-7 (New King James Version) 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
God loves and cares for you, more than you can possibly ever imagine. You are his creation, you were made with a purpose. As much as it feels like sometimes, you are not alone. He wants to be close to you, to have a relationship with you, to call you his child. Meditate on how much he loves you and follow his commands.
Whatever struggle you are going through, you are loved. You can do it. You will overcome. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5.) Try harder than you have ever tried to do anything in your entire life. Reach further than you have ever reached in your entire life. Become the creation that God made you for!