Our family Memory Verse this week is Matthew 22:37-40:
Jesus replied: “‘˜Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘˜Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I have found that if you want to live a life pleasing to the Lord, it can be very frustrating! On the one hand, here Jesus has said there are only two things to worry about. That seems easy enough. Yet, He also said that all of the laws and the prophets hang on these two things…so these are not small things! How do we do this??
Searching the Bible for answers can reveal so many “good” things to do. It seems there are endless words of wisdom in the Bible for us; and then it can be very overwhelming when we turn to look at our own pitiful attempts to lead a “good life”.
Me? I am often just one computer glitch or traffic jam away from pulling my hair out…where is my patience? At the end of too many days, I have a bowl of Blue Bell ice cream and – truth, here? I am not training for a marathon – I don’t need the calories and I am not truly hungry…where is my self-control? When I struggle to keep a good attitude because things don’t go according to my plans…where is my joy?
But the “Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). I used to chase the Fruit of the Spirit, rather than the Spirit. And a verse like this would be my measuring stick for the day. And I always fell short. This led to discouragement and despair, and with good reason: we were not made to do this on our own.
As Paul reminds us “None is righteous, no, not one…no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10, 12). In fact, Christ says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in [your] weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9) and Paul agrees, saying “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). Knowing our weakness, demonstrates our need for Him.
I think that the second part of Jesus’ answer tells us what it looks like when we love God above everything else. Loving God, enables you to: Love your neighbor as yourself (v. 39). We simply are not able to love others (which often requires love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) without God.
Too many people “love”, expecting something in return (like respect, honor, love, mercy, affection, kindness, etc.). This is not love, because love is not transactional. Love is an action and a free gift. We know this because we see how Jesus loved.
I used to chase the Fruit of the Spirit, rather than the Spirit. But then I learned, the hard way, that He was right all along. I can’t do anything good without Him. And so, as for me, the nearness of God is my good (Psalm 73:28).
He is good for us, and to us. He is Worthy…worthy to receive praise and honor and glory (Rev 4:11)…and worthy of our love. And loving Him, enables us to love others.