Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Loving God and neighbors: Applying Matthew 22

~Tuesday Thoughts~

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:36-40, NIV).

God’s Word repeats the command to love your God and your neighbors again and again. From the well-known passage in Matthew to John’s love-infused letters, there is no doubt that love should be one of the crucial parts of our lives.

However, sometimes we do not know how to make this feel “real.” How do we imply head knowledge to actions? How do we obey 1 John 3:18, which encourages us not to “love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (New International Version)?

Loving God is something that is both natural and extremely hard. As Caitlin says in Melody Carlson’s Becoming Me, “Now loving God may sound simple enough, but it’s not that easy to love him above all else.” From careers to hobbies to relationships, many things try to steal our attention and love away from where it should be. Church, friends, family, and maybe even a Christian school or college can help us dig deeper into knowing God, encouraging and providing accountability. Yet a lot of the job is for us to do one-on-one with God. It is never too late or too early to start reading the Bible or conversing with our Lord about our lives, this world and its troubles, or anything else.

One of the most important parts of loving God is obeying His commands (1 John 5:3), and one of these commands is loving others. If we love God, we must also love our neighbors (1 John 4:20), which sometimes proves to be a very difficult task. Numerous people annoy us so much or have hurt us time after time. However, we should not settle for tolerance of a person; we should love that person. No one said it would be easy.

We need to remember that loving with only words is almost nothing. Actions, however, do not need to be large to show this love. If we just look around, we will find millions of opportunities to do good to our neighbors. These include spending time with someone, encouraging him when life gets tiring, and reminding him of a love so amazing and great that will always be there for him if only he ask.

We need to remember that God loved us long before we even considered loving Him. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19, New International Version). Let us go love others!

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