“And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.”
- Mark 12:30
We are commanded to love God with every fiber of our being. Loving God should be the pursuit that consumes us. It’s not coincidental that this is the commandment that precedes all others. A passionate, intimate love for God is the place from which all ministry flows. When Christ has first place, everything else will fall into place.
The question that I had when considering this command was how to effectively love others while loving God with all that I have. Knowing that we are finite beings with a limited capacity for love, how do we love God with all of our being and still have love left over to give to other people?
That question brings us to what I think may be one of the main purposes behind this commandment. There are many facets to the reasons behind God’s commands, but the Holy Spirit recently began to speak to me about a point that I had never considered.
My question was how it’s possible to give all of my love to God and still have love left for others. What the Holy Spirit began to show me was that the point is to actually empty ourselves of love… our love that is. When we empty our love out on God, He fills us with His love for other people. Our love is imperfect and limited, but His love is perfect and limitless. As we lavish our love on God, we empty ourselves so that we can be filled.
I remember a word that my sister shared at our church camp one summer that has stuck with me through the years. She said, “When we don’t spend time with the Lord and let Him pour into us, all we have to offer people is ourselves.” People don’t need another halfhearted “I’m sorry” or “I hope you’re doing better.” They need to experience the powerful love of God.
You can’t give what you don’t have. We must be full of the love of God. This is the point. Our love is finite and incapable of producing the change that this world needs, but as we surrender our heart to the Lord and pour out our love as a sacrifice of praise, we position ourselves to be filled with the love of God. Filled with the perfect love that casts out fear; the love that heals (emotionally and physically); the love that gives us significance, fulfillment, and satisfaction.
One of my mentors said something to me recently that has changed the way I’ve been looking at everything. He said, “You can’t be Christ’s hands and feet unless you have His heart.” Jesus said He only did what He saw the Father doing. Every time he healed a sick person or forgave a repentant sinner, He was demonstrating the love of the Father, this is our assignment as well. We are called to bring people into an encounter with the love of God.
There is an exchange (a quite uneven exchange) that occurs when we offer our love to God, and in return receive His love which works in and through us. So if we want to love others well, in a way that transcends our own ability, we must love God well. If we love God with all our heart, He will give us His heart for others.
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