This week I felt led to share with you my renewed commitment to becoming and living as a “man of God’s Word.” I do so in hopes that it will somehow motivate and inspire you to make or renew a similar commitment!
Is it possible that, like the church in Ephesus, we have lost our first love in our pursuit of good deeds, hard work, and excellence in ministry? I invite you to journey with me as we rediscover the knowledge of God and grow in love for Him and those around us!
Jesus tells us in John 13:34-35 that loving people is the way that the world will know that we are His disciples, that we genuinely love Him and long to be like Him. And in the book of I John (among other places), we are told that we do not truly love God if we do not also love those around us. This is why Jesus says that the second great commandment, to love our neighbor as ourselves, is “like” the first. They are very closely related.
In Matthew 22:39, Jesus tells us that the second greatest commandment is that we love other people “as we love ourselves.” For many followers of Jesus, our issue is typically not that we DON’T love others as we love ourselves, but that we DO. We just don’t love ourselves very well. Worse yet, in many cases we have become OK with our lack of self-love and have even convinced ourselves that it is biblical. The truth is, God has created each of us with value and purpose, and His desire is that we would learn to love ourselves in a biblical way!
While it would certainly be ideal in many ways if God would wiggle His nose and make us fully devoted disciples who are empowered to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, it doesn’t work that way. Growing in love for God and people is a lifelong process. God is relational and wants us to continually choose to walk with Him through His process, trusting Him for the outcome. He is the “author and finisher of our faith,” (Hebrews 12:2) and He will finish the good work He has started in each of us (Philippians 1:6).
In serving others, we choose to invest our time and energy, assets that could be used to further our own interests, in God’s purposes and Kingdom. Time that we might otherwise use for earning income, networking, socializing or being entertained is poured out on others as an expression of love for both Jesus and the ones we serve. And as with most things in God’s economy, the rewards far outweigh the sacrifice.
While it is certainly admirable to pursue excellence in every area of life (Paul tells us in Colossians 3:23 to do everything as unto the Lord), there is ultimately only one arena in which excellence truly matters. Learning to walk out Jesus’ commandments to love God and others is the foundational key to all of life, and the degree to which we learn to do so determines our lasting impact on the world around us. Loving God and others brings the kingdom of Heaven to earth in a real and tangible way, and when we love according to His definition, it also carries a ripple effect that extends into eternity.