When asked which was the greatest of God’s commandments, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind [and] love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” 1
He obviously knew that in learning to love, we would learn what it means to be holy. I think He also knew that this was probably the hardest commandment to live up to. We could have coped better with a list of rules—at least then, we’d all know who was hacking it and who wasn’t. Who was worthy and who wasn’t. Now we’re stuck with the impossible task of loving those around us, even if they seem unworthy.
But for the longest time, that wasn’t my take on His commandments. I somehow equated love with worthiness. God loved me because I was worthy of His love, and I loved others who were worthy of my love.
Then one day, my heart finally asked the question: What have I done that has made me worthy of God’s love? Nothing. Have I magically kept my sins and shortcomings within a “loveable” scoring? Nope. I came to the realization that He doesn’t love me because I’m worthy, but I’m worthy because He loves me. Honestly, it took a while for that to sink into my brain. It was extremely liberating to realize that I wasn’t on a quest to score as many “love” points as I could. It was also deeply humbling to realize I was fully and completely loved, without deserving it at all.
How countercultural is that! In a world that equates value with achievements, scorings, and numbers, the only reason I’m valuable to God is because He loves me. That’s when I finally understood what John meant when he said that we love God because He first loved us. 2 When we understand the depth of God’s love for us, and the extent to which we are unworthy of it, how can we not love Him!
God’s love is “faithful” and “endures forever.” 3 And it’s there for you if you want it. All you have to do is ask:
Dear Jesus, please come into my life, forgive me for the wrong things I’ve done, and help me love You and others. Amen.
- Matthew 22:37–40 NLT
- See 1 John 4:19.
- Psalm 136:1 NLT