Loving God “Sometimes”

One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:35-40, NASB

I had an opportunity to discuss the greatest commandment with three of my kids this morning. I asked them if they remembered the two greatest commandments according to Jesus. All of them remembered the second–to love your neighbor as yourself. I suppose I should be grateful for that much. I hope they are learning to treat others the way they want to be treated.

Unfortunately, no one remembered the first–to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Daughter #1 came the closest when she remembered the first of the Ten Commandments–“you shall have no other gods before Me”–but as I told them all, that’s really the same commandment, in a way. If we are truly loving God with our whole being, then we are putting him above all other gods and idols.

I asked Son #1 if he could truly say he loves God with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength. He said, “yeah, sometimes.”

Perhaps he didn’t understand the question.

You can’t love anything with that depth only “sometimes.” It’s an all or nothing proposition. But I think we assume–or perhaps just live as if–it is possible to turn that depth of love off and on.

It occurred to me–what if I loved the people in my life the way I have been loving God? If I told my husband I loved him and then turned around and flirted with other men, he would have no reason to believe my profession of love. If I told my children that I loved them and yet constantly sought out my own interests and never made time to hear about theirs, they would soon believe that my declarations of affection were mere noise designed to make me feel better about my parenting. If I claimed that my best friend was dearer to me than my own sister and then spread gossip and rumors about her, she would very quickly stop being my best friend. If I assured my mother that I care deeply about her and enjoy spending time with her, but I never called or stopped by for coffee or shared a holiday with her, she would grieve our missed time and wonder if I had any affection for her.

Is this not how I’ve been loving God these past years? I’ve claimed to love him, yet I’ve flirted with the gods of convenience, entertainment, pleasure, and career. I’ve declared that his interests are important to me, yet I’ve made idols of my own desires and pursued those things that are important to me and not to God’s kingdom. I’ve assured him that he is dear to me, but I’ve used his name in ways that grieve him and lied about him by keeping silent when I should have spoken. I’ve promised him that I would make time to read his Word and spend time in his Presence, but all I’ve managed are the prayer equivalents of random, infrequent text messages.

I have not loved God with anything close to all my heart, mind, soul, and strength.

I love Mr. P for who he is, not for what he does or has done or has promised to do for me. I love him because he is strong, kind, steadfast, loyal, intelligent, funny, interesting, and on and on.

What if I loved God for who he is?

God is strong. He is kind. He is steadfast, loyal, intelligent, funny–all of those things that I love about my husband and more.

I should not love God because I have a house, or because I have had a relatively tragedy-free life, or because I live in the United States, or even because God sacrificed his own Son on a cross to offer me the chance for reconciliation with him. I can be grateful for all of those things, and certainly I am, but what if I loved God–really loved God, truly pursued God–with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength?

I do not want to love God only sometimes. This is an all or nothing proposition. And as for me, I want to be all in.

Till next we meet . . .

J M

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