Love the Lord, all you his saints.
The scribe said to Jesus, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘He is one, and besides him there is no other;’ and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
Martin Luther spoke of his relationship with God before his discovery of God’s grace and justification for Jesus’ sake. He said, “I did not love a just and angry God, but but rather hated and murmured against him.” I don’t know if I could be that honest, but I do know that a deep and abiding love for God is difficult for me to maintain. In fact, love for God often seems more of a duty than a grace-inspired move of my heart. My love for God is too often like my love for my wife when we’re quarrelling: It’s there, but it’s begrudging.
Clearly this command to love God requires a willful and purposeful attitude of delight, joy in, and a desire to be in his presence. To love God with our whole heart, understanding, and strength requires much more than tepid lip service, occasional prayer, and periodic check-ins with him. This calls for us to engage our minds, hearts, and even our physical self in love for God.
Thankfully we also learn that God’s love comes first to us. He woos us with his grace, kindness, goodness, and mercy. He knows how miserable we are when we give our hearts to things other than him. He knows that he alone is worthy of wholehearted devotion. As such his command is an invitation. He invites us to find our life in him. He invites us to look to him as the greatest good in life.
Perhaps we are struggling with understanding and believing in the goodness of God, and his love for us when we struggle to love him. If that is the case, we need look no further than Jesus, God’s Son, God’s gift, and God’s salvation for us. His love will move our hearts to love him more than we could ever begrudgingly will ourselves to love him. Thank you Jesus!