Monday, December 19, 2016

Mark 12:30 -- On Learning to Love

"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment."
Mark 12:30

This verse reminded me of the primary song "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus."  Part of the lyrics go "Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought, / For these are the things Jesus taught."  The idea of deeds *and* thoughts is a powerful one.  I think we usually focus on deeds or actions.  We learn to do the right thing, but I'm not sure we often consider the necessity of *thinking* the right thing as well.  And even beyond the primary song, this verse adds in aspects that we don't always factor in when we think about obedience or following the Lord.

I think maybe we get the general idea of putting God first.  I'm not sure we really get the details here of what it means to be committed in all of these ways, or how they interact or overlap.  If we love God with *all* our hearts, what difference would that make in our lives?  If we loved him with our whole souls... is that different?  Are there things that we are committed to that much?  If we were committed to him with all of our minds, surely that is different... and how would it change our daily lives if we were?  And if we committed all of our strength to the Lord?  What does that look like?  Why did God clarify his commandment in these ways?  How would it be different if he just told us to love him?

I'm not sure I can answer all of those questions, but I think that we can in our own lives, if we think about the generosity and love, not only that we've experienced from other people and hopefully learned to show in return, but if we really sit down and think about the immense treasures of love that God has blessed us with in our lives.  When someone loves us, we don't want them to just go through the motions, or come to us and say sorry because mom made them. :)  We know the difference between shallow, outward protestations of love and heartfelt expressions.  And maybe that is most of what God is asking us here.  He's saying, please don't just pretend to love, or do it out of a sense of duty.  Maybe it starts out that way, sure... but to get to real relationships we have to move beyond what we're told to do, and start doing things because we actually care.  We learn to think about others when we experience life, and to take other people into account as we make decisions, and God more than deserves that consideration as well.  We're often willing to serve and give all the time and strength that we have to loved ones when they are sick.  God isn't sick, but he merits that kind of dedication.  We learn to pour our whole souls into some of our hobbies and talents.  Imagine what we could do if we did that for God.

God knows that we're still learning, and he doesn't expect us to be perfect at loving him, just like he knows we're still learning to love other people.  He knows that it is hard for us sometimes to love what we can't see... and maybe that is another reason he added in the details, so we wouldn't look with only our eyes.  As it says in 1 John 4:19, "We love him, because he first loved us."  Today, though we are imperfect at it, let's consider all that God has done for us, and work to do better on our end.  Let's resolve to put him first, and to love him on a deeper level... to develop that relationship and get to know him better, and thereby love him more.

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