“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 first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:37-40, ESV
We have all come to know this passage of scripture very well as believers in Christ, but what does this passage really mean? What is Jesus really telling and instructing us to do here?
Let’s dissect it:
Let’s first begin with the first phrases of this command,
“You shall love.”
Now what does this mean? Simple enough right? God is asking us to love…okay.
Let’s look at it again one more time,
“You shall love.”
God is commanding us to love.
A commandment, as we know it, is a divine rule. So in the first phrase of this passage, God starts off by commanding us to do an action, and that action is to do the word we call love.
Now let’s dig deeper into the the true meaning of love.
Is God commanding us to love as in that fuzzy romantic feeling we get whenever we see our significant other? Or how about that butterflies feeling whenever we get introduced to Mr. or Mrs. Right?
Or, is God commanding us to love as he loves?
Love, according to John in scripture, is described as this:
“God is love.” – 1 John 4:8, ESV
So, if God is love, then what is love really?
1 Corinthians describes love as,
“…patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. ” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, ESV
So this is the kind of love that Jesus was referring to in Matthew chapter 22. This type of love is love. It is not the emotional love that the world has blanketed our minds into believing. That kind of love is not love at all. It is a fleeting, up and down roller coaster emotion that we sometimes show, on and off, as we fell “led.”
This worldly love that is here today and gone tomorrow is not love at all. It is a counterfeit. And we all know what a counterfeit is.
So now that we have the proper context of God’s initial first statement, let’s move on to the rest of his instruction for us.
The passage in Matthew goes on to say,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” – Matthew 22: 37, ESV
Jesus draws a distinction between Lord and God, why is this?
The definition of lord is someone who has power, authority or influence; a master or ruler. The definition of God is the creator and ruler of the universe. By Jesus emphasizing that God is our Lord, he is restating to his disciples God’s proper placement in their lives. God is the sovereign authority of our lives as believers, and Jesus was making reference to himself in this statement.
We also see that Jesus pulls out 3 characteristics of the human body: the heart, the soul, and the mind. Why is this?
Well, we know the heart is our emotions, the soul is our very essence, and the mind is our logic, or our way of thinking (our control system). So what Jesus is really saying here is that we as believers are commanded to love God with our everything.
We are to love God with our everything.
The next commandment Jesus goes on to say, is compared to the first:
“…love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:39, ESV
So not only are we called to love God, but we are also called to love others as we love ourselves. So this commandment is drawing reference to not just other people, but to ourselves as well.
We are to love ourselves and to love others as we love ourselves.
This however cannot be accomplished without first recognizing who God is, and choosing to love him with our everything.
Love is a choice. It is a commandment by God that we as believers are expected to obey.
So, is this love thing really possible?
Is it possible to love God, to love ourselves, and to love others as well?
God is love, and when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we not only receive God’s Holy Spirit, but we receive the endowments of his Spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love…” – Galatians 5:22, ESV
When we flow in one accord with God’s Spirit, we are given the power and the ability to love like God wants and desires us to love.
It is not by might, nor by power, but by his Spirit that we are given the spiritual endowment to love like God loves.
Grace and peace fam.