In Mark 12 there is a story about Jesus being questioned concerning the most important commandment. When Jesus answered the question, he summarized all of God’s laws in what he said to the religious teacher. Instead of being a long list of do’s and don’ts Jesus reduced them to two principles: love God and love others. When you love God competely and love and care for other people as you care for yourself, then you have fulfilled the intent of the Ten Commandments and everyone of the other Old Testament laws. According to Jesus, these two commandments summarize in one word all God’s laws for human beings: Love.
Mark 12:28-31; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 8a; Galatians 5:6b; Colossians 3:12-14; 1 John 3:16-18b
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31.
The Bible tells us many things about love. One of them is this: love is a matter of choice. In Colossian 3, Paul encourages followers of Jesus to develop or put on some wonderful virtues such as mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience and forgiveness. We should take his admonition to heart and pray and ask God to help us develop these things in our lives. Paul says that on top of all these other virtues we should put on love. That last piece of spiritual clothing we’re to put on is love. Paul knew that if we tried to practice any virtue without practicing it in love it would lead to distortion and fragmentation. The apostle Paul says that as God’s people we are to choose to put on love after we have chosen the attitudes and virtues he listed. God wouldn’t ask us to put on something, as we would a coat, if we didn’t have the ability to choose to do so. God knows that love is a matter of choice for all of us. We choose every day in a variety of situations whether we’re going to put on love or not. Love is not only a matter of choice it’s also a matter of action. Claiming to love other people with just your words is not enough. Love is more than just what we say. Real love is an action, not just a felling. Real love produces selfless, sacrificial giving. The greatest act of love is giving oneself for others. This well-known saying is worth repeating; actions speak louder than words. When it comes to love, our actions do speak louder and more forcefully than just mere words.
Have you made any New Year resolutions for 2021? If so, what is one of them? Did you ever make a resolution that you were able to keep? If so, what was it? How would you respond to a person who told you they believed that love was just a feeling? What is one action you have taken in 2021 to show that you love someone? Why would your family and friends say you were a loving person? When was the last time you regretted showing love to someone?
Take the challenge and commit to being #1 in love this year. Be intentional and do these three things to help keep you moving forward toward your goal: 1) Love now and don’t wait 2) Love without counting the cost and 3) Love without conditions.
Dear Jesus, thank you for loving me and laying down your life for me on the cross. I want to draw closer and love you more this year than I have in the past. I also want to love other people more in 2021 so that, with your help, I can make a difference in their lives. In your wonderful and mighty name I pray, Amen.