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To love God with all our heart
- Jacob Ninan
Jesus said that the first and the most important commandment was to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind (Mt.22:37). If we look at this as a sentimental idea, it looks to be so easy! This seems to be the way many people think about love for God, especially when they feel good after listening to worship songs, reading 'cute' statements or videos on social media, or experiencing something specially good. On the contrary, if we look at this as a commandment to be obeyed in practical life, it immediately looks impossible! How can anyone obey this? Does this mean we have to be thinking about God all the time? How can imperfect people like us ever keep a perfect standard like this? However seriously we try, we invariably come short.
What exactly did Jesus mean when He gave us this commandment? Was He just giving us some nice concepts which He never expected us to keep? No.
When we think about it we can understand that this is not a commandment that we can obey perfectly from the start of our spiritual life, when we are born again. We need to look for a practical growth in our love for God in our life. We need to be able to love God more and more as we grow spiritually, as we get to know Him better and understand ourselves better.
At the same time we need to know how to 'measure' or assess our love for God in a practical way so that we can be sure that we are indeed making progress. This measure should not be based on our feelings of love for God which may fluctuate because of various reasons, even for the most spiritual people.
We can measure our love for God by the way we choose Him whenever we have an alternative to choose. Do we love God more than we love anyone else or anything else? Jesus is the one who has given us this test (Mt.10:37). He said that if we loved anyone more than Him, we would not be worthy of Him. He went to the extent of saying that when we were faced with a choice between pleasing God or any of our loved ones, we should, in effect, 'hate' our loved ones (Lk.14:26).
If we love anything else more than God, we make that an idol for us in our mind which we worship. If we are willing to overlook God when it comes to pleasing ourselves or pleasing people then we can't say we love God with all our heart. If we have time for many things but not for God, how do we say we love God? If we have money to spend on ourselves but not to give to God, aren't we fooling ourselves?
Then God asks us, "Do you love Me more than these?" (Jn.21:15).
It should be obvious to us that we can only grow in our love for God to the extent that we notice how we love other things and then choose to place God first in those situations. We can grow from failure to success in different areas of our life as we become more and more aware of what is going on there. Let us learn in this way to love God with all of our heart and mind. Then we will also find that He is more worthy than all else!