“Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39
There’s something about surrounding yourself with godly influences that changes you. I have had the express privilege of leading a group of about 15 ladies in Bible study now for about six months each week in my living room. Each Wednesday night, we’ve met together and dove into the Scriptures in search of truth and in search of Jesus Himself. And we have found Him. In the process of our pursuit of Christ, I have been changed. Although I have been the one doing the majority of the “teaching” each week, these ladies have taught me more than they even know. Watching them learn and grasp new truth about who God says He is in His Word has increased my own faith in Christ. Tonight, I couldn’t help but walk away with one simple truth:
Love must motivate everything I do. When I am loving, I am being like Jesus.
I realize that this isn’t extremely profound, but I recognized tonight that there will be profound implications if I actually choose to be a loving Christian. As I sat and watched these ladies in my living room dig through the Bible tonight in search of what God’s Word has to say about different issues that we face in life, I saw lots of eyes being opened and hearts being illuminated. In response to the question, “How should Christians respond to this?”, the resounding answer in the room was Matthew 22:37-39.
I live much of my life seeking to be grounded in truth, and while that is a good and necessary thing, I was reminded again tonight that grace must accompany that endless pursuit of truth. Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, and He was full of grace AND truth (John 1:14), not just one or the other. Ephesians 5:1 tells us that we are to imitate God, so therefore, I am also to be full of both grace and truth.
I walked away from our time in Bible study tonight with this one conviction: Everything I do should be rooted in and motivated by love. I want to be a loving person. I want people to look at me, while knowing that I’m a Christian, and see a loving person. To be Christian = to be loving. If we are missing this, we are missing the heart of Jesus Christ. Love God; Love people. These are the top two commands according to Christ. In all things, love.
I recognize that I have failed you in this, and by failing you, I have failed a world of people that are lost and hopeless without you. You placed me on this earth to be your light and to point all people towards you in love and truth. Every time I have chosen to be unloving, people around me have missed an opportunity to see you, Jesus, through me. Change my heart, O God. Make it new. I want to love like you do. I want my motivation in all things to be love – first and foremost to love you, and secondly, to love others. Without love, I am nothing. Without love, I gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Help me to love others like you would love them, Jesus. In every encounter, may others feel the love of Christ spilling out of me. May the unlovable feel loved around me. May I not withhold love from those that withhold love from me. Father, I lift up my dear sisters who are struggling with this very thing – being love to everyone that they encounter. Change the desires of their hearts to match yours, so that in all things, they too will be motivated by love. Jesus, I pray that you would ignite within us such a desire to be loving, that we begin a love revolution in our world today. The more people see your love, the more their hearts will melt for your truth. Help us to be loving. We need you to accomplish this good work in us, Jesus. We are desperate for you.
In Jesus’ name,