Living for God isn’t complicated. His call to each of us is actually quite simple. He says to us His Church, “Love Me and Love others”. Love is to be the hallmark of every Christian. It’s the one thing that should set us apart from the world. The language of love – a Jesus kind of love - should be a huge part of our identity. In John 13:34-35, this is what Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The call of God is to love, and Jesus teaches and shows us how. He is our example.
We read in Matthew 22:34-40, “But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And 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 great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
So what does that mean? Firstly, loving God with all your heart, soul and mind means exactly that. Remember it’s not complicated but actually quite simple. It means loving Him with your whole being and holding nothing of yourself back from Him. That means that I must have an undivided loyalty and allegiance to God. It means He has my whole heart, and I love Him with my all. This is worked out in my life through complete obedience and total surrender to Him and His Ways. My life then is His and I love Him with my whole being, which is actively worked out in my loving, loyal service to Him. I love Him with all my passions, talents, abilities, will and desires.
Secondly, there is only one other place in the book of Matthew that we see that term “the law and the prophets.” And it’s there that we find a very simple but profound definition of loving others. In Matthew 7:12 we are told, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” How I want others to love, respect and honour me is how I should love, respect and honour them. So, do I want my husband to commit adultery? Do I want someone to murder me or someone that I love? Do I want someone to steal from me, lie to me, covet my possessions or harm me in any way? Of course not! Reversing that thought, means I wouldn’t want to do that to anyone else either. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, commands us to "owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'You shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' Love does no harm to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilment of the law" (Romans 13:8-10).
Loving others therefore means selflessly and sacrificially giving of myself to others even when they can’t do the same for me or won’t do the same for me. Loving others means not counting the cost. It means showing respect. It means being kind and compassionate. It means being gentle and faithful. It means being patient. It means being non-judgemental. It means being considerate and showing mercy at all times. It means in honour preferring others always!
Love is an action. Loving God and loving others is giving of yourself selflessly, unconditionally and completely. It’s not withholding anything from anyone. Lord help me! Help me to love you and love others so that my city can be changed with the gospel of Jesus Christ.