God wants us to love Him, but why? And is that enough? I don’t think so. The greatest second commandment comes from Mark 12:31. But, first in verse 30, we are instructed to love God but then what? “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
God wants us to love Him, but then He really wants us to love others. Are we loving Him just for ourselves, and if we are…that isn’t enough.
Growing up in church as a preacher’s kid, I remember how my father displayed on the outside of his church at 135 Belmont Street in Worcester Massachusetts, the letters to spell: “Jesus Loves You.” I grew up knowing Jesus loved me but the big question was why? I have learned that Jesus loves me so I can love others. This is how His Gospel spreads. We grasp it, and then we share it. If we keep it only to ourselves, then we miss out on the blessing of how it is more blessed to give than receive.
Recently, I was in Haiti giving shoebox gifts to children in Bire, Haiti. Sitting on the church bench was a girl around 10 years old, who was wearing all black. This signifies she was mourning the loss of a family member. I wiggled in to sit next to her and began to ask a few questions. “Who died?” I asked. “My grandmother” she said. I then placed my arm around her and told her I would be praying for her and that she was a beautiful person and Jesus loved her. A young girl walked over toward us. “This is my friend,” she stated. I smiled—knowing God loved this girl so much that He sent a friend to be by her side. I then asked, “How long have you been friends?” “Since we started school here (Bire) at four years of age,” replied the girl in mourning.
In my heart, I began to thank God for His gift of love. Who do you need to go visit…just to be by their side and love them? Remember, love is better when it’s shared!
In Mark 12, Jesus declared the importance of loving your neighbor. He also told a story (Luke 10:25-37) about a man traveling to Jericho who was attacked by robbers, badly beaten, and left on the side of the road. Everyone passed him by—even the religious people—until a stranger came to his aid. The stranger bound his wounds and took him to an inn with instructions for the innkeeper to tend to him. In the story, Jesus said the stranger who extended help to the man was truly his neighbor.
If loving God isn’t enough, then what? Love your neighbor. Love your family. Love your friends. Love a stranger. Here is my prayer, “Dear Lord, help me love You so much I cannot help but love others because loving You filled me to the point of overflowing. God, thank You for loving me …because when I start to love others, my love for You becomes alive.”
On a personal note, I’m seeing how God loves me so I may love my neighbors more. Each of us can love God, but then what? Loving Him isn’t enough. Today, more than ever, our world needs good neighbors who make great neighborhoods. Loving God sitting in the safety of our homes or churches isn’t enough. Instead, we must go outside, cross the street, or go next door and serve our neighbors.
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