Tag Archives: greatest commandment

Gaining Internal Confidence

The heart is known as the seat of our emotions. Our emotions dictate our words and actions. You can tell a lot about what’s in people’s heart simply by listening to them and watching their actions. When I hear people talk down to themselves or beat themselves up, it bothers me because it’s a reflection of how they truly feel about themselves. I went to compliment a kid recently about how well he performed and he replied, “I was terrible. I’m no good. I don’t know why I did it.” My heart broke because he’s already let his self talk destroy his confidence. I tried to speak life into him, but more than anything, he needed a change in his heart to readjust his thinking.

Proverbs 14:26 says, “Confidence and strength flood the hearts of the lovers of God who live in awe of him, and their devotion provides their children with a place of shelter and security” (TPT). It’s amazing how much we can accomplish when we have confidence and mental strength. So many of us struggle with an internal picture of who we are. We must remember that we are made in God’s image. The greater picture we have of God, the greater picture we will have of ourselves. A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.”

The greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength. To love Him with all of our heart, we need to know Him more. The more we know Him, the more we will live in awe of Him. It’s no coincidence that He listed the heart first. Everything stems from there: our relationship with God, our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with others. If you need confidence in any of those areas, it starts with knowing God. You get to know Him more through reading the Bible, prayer and sitting quietly in His presence. Learning to do these three things won’t just change you, it’ll have a generational effect as well.

Photo by Fares Hamouche on Unsplash

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The New Commandment 


In Matthew 22, some Pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. In verses 37-39 Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (GNT). Jesus was very clear that we should love God first and then our neighbor. 

On the night before the crucifixion, at the Last Supper, Jesus gathered His disciples around for one final teaching. In John 13:34 Jesus said, “And now i give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” Jesus was adding that now we have to love other believers as well.

Sometimes the hardest people to love are within the walls of our churches. We find it easy to go out and love the homeless, the orphan, the destitute and the broken, but that’s not how Jesus said they would know we are Christians. Are those things necessary? Yes! Those are our neighbors. What’s difficult for so many of us is to love the person on the pew next to us or in the church across town. And that’s who Jesus commanded us to love on His last night. He knew we would struggle with this.

Jesus once said, “A house divided can’t stand.” Since that time, the enemy has tried to divide the Church. We’re divided into denominations and now we split churches because we grow to hate our brothers. If we’re going to be effective in loving our neighbors, we’ve got to love each other first. We need to put down our grudges and love each other instead. Until we get that right, how will the world know we are truly His disciples? If you’re holding a grudge, slandering or angry against another believer, you’ll find it’s difficult to obey the first two commandments effectively. Learn to love your brother (or sister) in Christ whether you think they deserve it or not.

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God’s Image

  
One day, there was a religious leader who wanted to trap Jesus. He asked Him which of the commandments was the most important. Jesus knew what was in his heart and replied that we must love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. What the leader wasn’t prepared for was what Jesus said next. He said, “A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself” (NLT). He knew if we could do these two things, we could fulfill the law.

The first one seems easy enough. We are to love a perfect God with everything in us. The second one, that’s equally important, is the tough one because people are imperfect. People do things that make us mad, offend us, hurt us, and drive us nuts. Yet Jesus is telling us to love them with everything in us as much as we love God. Why would He put that pressure on us? Why can’t we just love God and go to Heaven?

I believe God wanted us to learn to look past each other’s faults to see what He sees in them. Genesis 1:27 tells us what to look for. “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Each of us are made in God’s image, even the people you can’t stand. God put His likeness in each one of us and its up to us to learn to see it the way He does.

If you look for the best in others, they will look for the best in you. If you learn to see God’s image in them, you can learn to love them because we can easily love God. It’s tough sometimes to dig through their layers to find it deep inside them, but His image is in there. When we learn to see Him in others, and to help them see His image in themselves, we begin to see the world through different lenses. We begin to know as we are known and also to fulfill that second, but equally important commandment. Look deeper into to others today to find God’s image and fulfill the law of Christ.

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Extravagant Love

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During my pastor’s Father’s Day sermon, he talked about how kids pick up a lot of their early habits from their parents. After the sermon, he called all the men to the front to pray over them. I had my son back in service with me by this point so I took him down there with me. While my pastor was speaking to us, my son was watching him intently and then said, “Amen!” I laughed and thought about the message. When he prayed over us, I heard my son say, “Yes, Lord.” He’s starting to pick up a lot of habits by watching me. He’s imitating what he sees me do. It’s important that I give him a good example to follow.

When you look at Ephesians 5:1-2 in the Message Bible, it speaks to us as children and how we are to be imitators of Christ. It says, “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” It’s pretty clear message what God wants us to do.

The first thing is that we choose who we imitate. The people we spend the most time with are the ones who we become most like. We end up liking the same things, going to the same places and even speaking the same way. It’s part of life. You become like those you run with. Your parents told you that line and you’ve told it to your kids. It’s such an important lesson for every stage of life. If we want to be more like God, then we have to spend more time with Him. If we want to see what God does, we have to be around Him and we have to be paying attention.

Mostly what God does is love. How would our lives be different, if most of what we did was to love others? How would the world be different? God’s message to us over and over is simply to love others. Jesus said that was the greatest commandment. In I John 4:7-8, John said that the person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God. In I Corinthians 13, Paul gave us all the attributes of love including that it was patient, kind and that it didn’t keep score of the sins of others. We typically apply those to romantic love, but they are to be applied to Christian love toward others too.

You and I are called to love and we have been shown the greatest example of it. It’s time we started to imitate our Father and demonstrate the kind of love we’ve been shown. The people around us who need God’s love the most don’t need another person pointing out what’s wrong in their life. They need someone who will love them in spite of it. They need someone who will love the me extravagantly. They need someone to show them what selfless love really is. You have experienced it from your Father. It’s time we started imitating it to those around us. Who in your world needs that kind of love today?

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Loving Your Neighbor

How would your life be different if you really cared about others? Think about it for a second. We say we care about others, but do our actions reflect that? Right after Jesus told us what the Greatest Commandment was, He said, “The second one is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Loving your neighbor is as equally important as loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. So why is it easier to love God that way, but not our neighbor?

I’m the same as you. I’ve got neighbors I like and ones that I don’t. They mow their grass at inappropriate times, they host parties until 4 AM, they don’t keep up their yards or houses and they aren’t friendly. Jesus didn’t allow for those excuses here. He didn’t say love them if they’re easy to love. He said love them as you love yourself. If you would do something for yourself, you should be willing to do it for your neighbor. You should put their needs above yours.

I know this isn’t easy and I’m guilty of not loving my neighbors as I should. If we’re serious about our faith and we’re serious about seeing God’s Kingdom grow, we’ve got to shift the focus from ourselves and onto others. In Luke 10:29, someone asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” He then told them the parable of the Good Samaritan. When He finished, Jesus asked, “Which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” They replied, “The one who showed mercy.” Then Jesus told us to go do the same.

Loving our neighbors, as illustrated in that parable, isn’t just those who live next to you. It’s anyone you see or come across who is in need. We are to love them and do for them what we would do for ourselves if we were in that situation. I saw a man yesterday sitting outside the 99 cent store playing guitar with his case open for money. I asked my wife, “Why is he sitting outside the 99 cent store and not in front of a store where people who have money are?” Her reply was, “He knows they carry cash.”

The more I think about it, the more I realize that the people going in there are more likely to give to him than someone at an expensive store. Even though they only have a little, they’re more willing to give. Most people who have money aren’t willing to let go of it easily. Jesus illustrated that in the Good Samaritan as well. The people who should have helped the man who was robbed, walked by on the other side of the street. The one who no one thought would help, put the man on his own donkey and walked to the next town. He took care of the stranger’s wounds. He paid for his food, lodging and medical bills. He loved his neighbor the way we’re supposed to.

What neighbors in need has God put in your life that you’ve passed up constantly? Who can you show mercy to today? I think there’s no better way to show God we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength than to love others who need it most like we love ourselves. How would your life change if you really loved others that way? How would your relationship with God grow if you did? Open your eyes today to see what neighbor God puts in your path and then love them the way you love yourself.

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Love With All Your Soul

And you must love The Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. – Mark 12:30

If loving God with all your heart was about being passionate again in your relationship with Him, then loving Him with all your soul is about loving Him with who you are. I looked up the Greek word “soul” used in this scripture to help give context and the word was “psyche”. It includes your conscious and subconscious self. I believe Jesus was telling us that our love for Him should permeate our entire being. It should be second nature to us.

I’m reminded of the woman who came and wept at Jesus’ feet and then dried them with her hair. People were watching in shock as she did it. They couldn’t believe Jesus was allowing this sinful woman to touch Him. He turned to them in Luke 7: 44-47 and told them that they had not offered him water for His feet nor greeted Him with a kiss. He then made the point that the person who is forgiven most, loves most and whoever has been forgiven little loves little.

When Jesus comes into our lives and forgives us of sins we have committed, it should change who we are and how we love. II Corinthians 5:17 tells us that anyone who belongs to Christ becomes a new person. Our old life is gone and a new life begins. The extent to which we realize what we’ve been saved from is how much we will love God with who we are. If Christ has forgiven us, then He has saved us from the same fate no matter how big or how small our sins were. We should love Him unconditionally based on that, but Jesus made a point to show that the size of our debt has to do with the size of our love.

Many of us have been forgiven for a great deal of sin. Some of us have been forgiven a small amount if sin. Either way, we have all sinned and were condemned to hell. Now that we have been forgiven, how do we express that love with who we are? Have we let that forgiveness come into our psyche and change us as a person? Have we become a new person that is different from the old one? God doesn’t just want our passion, He wants who we are to love Him. He wants our love for Him to emanate from our very being.

Letting His love change our psyche means we have to let go of the past that is tied to our old psyche. You can’t change what you’ve done in the past, but you can let Him forgive you of it and you can forgive yourself for it. When you’ve learned to do that, you will see that who you are will begin to change. You will become more like He is and grow into the person He wants you to become. Let go of the old life today. Embrace the new life He is giving you and love Him with who you are. That’s loving God with all your soul.

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Love With All Your Heart

And you must love The Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. – Mark 12:30

What does it mean to love God with all your heart? We tell others we love them with all of our heart, but what does it really mean when we say that? Have you ever loved someone with half a heart? I don’t think so. Love requires that you go all in. It demands that you give up what you want for the other. I Corinthians 13 tells us all of the great attributes of love. We apply that chapter at weddings to marriage, but what about to our relationship with God?

When you love with your whole heart, you don’t care who knows. There’s a feeling of euphoria that makes you feel like you’re walking in the clouds. You smile for no reason at all. You think about the other person all the time. When is the last time you had those feelings or thoughts about God? It’s a tough question for any of us to answer, especially those of us who have been Christians for a long time. Just like a normal relationship, those feelings of euphoria change and the relationship has to be built on something more than feelings.

When we first believe, we experience those feelings and thoughts, but over time they wane. We have to learn how to keep our relationship with God fresh. We have to put work into it. We have to dedicate time to the relationship to help it grow. If we don’t make our relationship with God a priority in our lives, our feelings of love for Him will go away. God desires quality time with each of us, not just a nod to heaven every now and then. He wants to talk with us and to be our first thought, not our last.

Jesus intentionally lead off the greatest commandment with “Love The Lord your God with all your heart.” He knew that if we could learn to love Him with all of our heart, then the rest would be easier to do. He knew that the heart is the seat of emotion in our lives. It’s what gets us to try when defeat is certain. It’s what gets us to believe when all hope is lost. It’s what makes us pick ourselves up off the floor after we’ve been knocked down and convinces us to get back up again. Loving Him with that kind of heart is what will keep the relationship strong even in the dark times.

If you’re in that place where the feelings of euphoria are gone in your relationship with God and He feels distant, I want to encourage you today to rekindle that fire. The easiest way to do it, is to make time for Him today. Make your relationship with Him a priority. Show Him you mean it by giving up what you want for what He wants. Refocus your attention on what matters for eternity versus what’s temporary. If what you’re doing today has no bearing on eternity, then you’ve lost focus on what really matters. Find a way today to show God you love Him with all your heart.

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