Love Me, Love You

Matthew 22: 37 – 40

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 foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Upon these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets.”

There is no more important topic than love. This is the topic which is foremost on the Lord’s mind. Actually, He never tires of talking about love. There are, however, three aspects of love. First and foremost is, love of the Father. That is exactly what Jesus points to in this passage. When asked what the greatest commandment is, he answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” That is number one. Second, according to Jesus, is loving your neighbor as you love yourself. So, there is another kind of love presumed here. That is self-love. Jesus expects us to have a healthy self-love. This is not narcissism. Narcissism is “selfishness, involving a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.”

Healthy self-love means doing those things which promote a healthy life physically, spiritually, emotionally, and relationally. Jesus says that we should love others in our community as a healthy person loves and treats himself. Our community includes everyone we come in contact with. It is important that we recognize that “our neighbors” are not only our Christian brethren. Second, we are to love our neighbors equally with how we love ourselves. With this presumption of loving ourselves in a healthy way, we are supposed to love others in a healthy substantive way too.

Love God, love your neighbor, those are the two loves Jesus refers to in this passage and he insinuates a healthy self-love. There is, however, another love, and this one is the key. That which we have discussed is our expression of love towards ourselves and others. The most important love of all is God’s love for us. His love is what drives the universe. There is no savior, no salvation, no life even without the love of God. There is no love at all without the love of God. When I say that this love is the driver, I mean to convey that there is no ability for us to love ourselves, love others, or even love God Himself without first having the love of God expressed to our hearts. Only when we receive God’s love can we even reasonably dream of being lovely ourselves. It is His love with which we love others. The work of loving God and loving our neighbors takes place in letting God love us.

I want you to understand that receiving God’s love is not necessarily a passive process. When we slow down and commune our hearts with His then we are able to open ourselves to actually receiving His love. In other words, if you wish to make it your determined purpose to obey Jesus guidance from this passage, then the means, the only means for accomplishing same is to allow God to love you. It is not only the beginning point but also the ending point and everything in between. Loving yourself begins with allowing God to love you. Loving others is powered by the love God gives you.

The primary work of the gospel is to receive the love of God and subsequently convey it to others. That’s it – that’s the gospel. Easy, right? You know, for some of us this is the hardest thing we will do, letting God love us. Too loud in our psyche is our unworthiness, which I will write about next week and let you know how I overcome that issue.