Last week in my blog “The Greatest Force” I quoted this scripture from Matthew 22:37-39, “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.” Can anybody do this? I’m going to take the liberty of answering for all of us and say “no” because in verse 40 of this passage Jesus continues, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” The scriptures make it very clear that none of us have been able to keep the whole Law.
Houston, we have a problem!
Unfortunately, neither Houston nor I have the solution, but God does. For God so loved …, that he sent Jesus (see John 3:16). I believe that our ability to love God and others is rooted in our ability to receive God’s love. Truly believing that we are loved changes us. There is a peace that comes over us that counters our need to perform. It takes away our need to earn love. Living in the peace of God’s love supports us and opens the way for us to give love.
To genuinely receive God’s love is difficult. We have to lay down our self-sufficiency. “I can do it myself.” Self-sufficiency is a part of our sinful nature. Have you ever observed a toddler saying “I do it?” It’s inherent. God’s love given freely puts us in a humble place. We don’t have to do anything to earn it. God did it all. It’s simply a matter of surrendering the pride of self-sufficiency.
Pride separates us from God, and allows us to do all kinds of unloving things. Think of bigotry and abuse. Aren’t these sourced in pride? The pride that says I’m better than or more important than another. Can a humble heart, that is truly receiving love from God, commit these acts against their neighbor?
I fall short in loving God and my neighbor every day. Therefore, every day I have the potential to be ungodly. I need to do something about this. No, I need to humbly receive God’s love for me. Loving God and others will flow from that.