Monday, October 26, 2009

Loving God

The first and greatest commandment is that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37). How do we do this? Now, the Bible says we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), and if we ask how He loved us, we are told He sent His Son to die for us (1 John 4:9-10; Romans 5:5-11). Our love for God is our response to God's love for us and what He has done for us.

But how much we value the gift and the Giver depends on how much we recognize our need. Luke tells the story of Jesus going to dinner at a Pharisee's house (see Luke 7:36-50). There entered a woman who was a notorious sinner, who began to anoint Jesus' feet with expensive perfume and wipe them with her hair. The Pharisee condemned Jesus for allowing such a woman to touch Him. In response, Jesus told the story of two debtors. One owed $250.00 and the other owed $2500.00. If the lender forgave them both, which would love him more? The Pharisee correctly discerned it was the one who owed more. Jesus then pointed out how the woman who had been forgiven much loved Jesus much. But the Pharisee, who thought he had done little that needed forgiving, loved little.

Where are we? Are we in the place of the Pharisee or the place of the woman? The Bible makes it very clear that all of us, no matter who, are sinners like the woman(Romans 3:9-18, 23; Isaiah 64:6; Jeremiah 17:9). But sometimes we can convince ourselves otherwise. We live in a culture that says that all people (except perhaps extreme cases) are basically good, and, if we do things that are wrong, it is really somebody else's fault. Also, we as Christians start to get the idea that, while we used to be sinners, somehow we are no longer like that. The Bible does not encourage us in this opinion (1 John 1:8-10). Also, it is easy to learn to mouth the words, "I am a sinner," and to not really believe them in our hearts.

In 2 Peter 1:5-11, it admonishes us to add to our faith in God a number of other virtues. It then says if these qualities are not in us and increasing, it is because we have forgotten our forgiveness from our former sins. If we are not growing in our love for God, resulting in changes in our lives, we need to come back to the cross and remember what God did for us and how much we needed it. Also, if we do love God, this should express itself in keeping the second greatest commandment--to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 34:19; 1 John 4:20,21; Romans 13:8-10; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

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