If we did a survey and asked 100 people what they thought was the most important element in Christianity, we would get at least 10 different answers. Some would say it is was Faith, others the Bible, prayer, the Holy Spirit, the church, service, or love. When Jesus was asked this question, he said it was "Our Love Directed Towards God."
l Now, the Bible elevates general love to a supreme position among all the virtues of man. In Paul's famous love chapter he makes this concluding statement, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Co 13:13
"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." Jn 13:35
"God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." 1 Jn 4:16
l It is very important that we recognize that our passage this morning is not promoting love in general, as it might flow from us towards all objects. Rather, Jesus is referring specifically to love for God; that is the greatest commandment.
l Read the passage. Our title is, "How To Love God with Your Whole Heart"
When we closely examine this passage, we discover that we are to respond by five concrete actions each centered on love for God.
I. YOU ARE COME TO CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOR
"You are not far from the kingdom of God." Mk 12:34
What Was Lacking In His Life?
Same condition as Nicodemus, "I tell you the truth, no one can see ("or enter" v.5) the kingdom of God unless he is born again." Jn 3:3
Man In His Natural State Has No Real Love For God
It would be wrong for us to conclude that there are some people who naturally like God and others who do not. The Bible declares that all human beings are at enmity with God. Instead of having love for him that have a natural aversion to him.
"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior." Col 1:21
How Can We Be Expected To Love Poetry (square dancing, or country music)?
Hated "American Idol." If God commanded him to, he couldn't.
Not something we can bring out. Not within our control.
"The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live." Dt 30:6
A Cleansed Conscious
"The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." 1 Ti 1:5
II. YOU ARE TO MAKE THE LOVE OF GOD THE KEY FEATURE OF YOUR LIFE
"Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" Mk 12:28
Greek: "Chief," number one?
Tell me about your friend John, describe him for me. "Well, above all, he loves God. That's the most obvious thing about him."
Love for God is enhanced by
By desiring to please him. Not "What would Jesus do", but what would please him
"And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God," Col 1:10
" Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more." 1 Th 4:1
The power of Exclusion.
"Have no other god's before me." Eliminate competing loves.
"Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you." Ps 73:25
III. YOU ARE TO BECOME PASSONATE ABOUT GOD
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." Mk 12:30
In the OT times, they referred to this as "wholehearted devotion" to God.
In the New testament it is called Zeal for God (enthusiastic).
"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men," Col 3:23
Lukewarm enthusiasm is nauseating to Christ
"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth." Re 3:15-16
Principle: You learn to love what you give yourself to.
The more a musician gives himself to music, the more he will love it.
God is to be very important to you,
you are to care deeply about him. You are to live "all out" for him, hold nothing back. Fully dedicated. You are to live for him in the extreme.
IV. YOU ARE TO OBEY EVERY COMMAND OF GOD
"There is no commandment greater than these." Mk 12:31
Our love will prompt us to obey him not just have good feelings about him.
"This is love for God: to obey his commands." 1 Jn 5:3
"If you love me, you will obey what I command." Jn 14:15
See the close connection in the Ten Commandments, "showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."
Caution: obedience should not be depersonalized. "Obedience without love is legalism"
V.YOU ARE TO GIVE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
"The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself." Mk 12:31.
He did not ask Jesus what the two greatest commandments were
Why did Jesus tell him what the second was?
"the second is like it" Mt 22:39.
Now, what if Jesus had said, "The most important commandment is to love God and the second is like it, love animals." Had he said that we would say that the emphasis was on the love to be expressed. Love God, love people, love animals, love everything.
But, love really isn't his main point, it is loving God, and the second is like it because loving others is in fact loving God, loving the image the likeness of God in man.
James says, (How strange, how inconsistent, how inappropriate,)
"With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness." Jas 3:9
"God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them." Heb 6:10
This helps us to understand, "The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Mt 25:40
Put the love you have for God on other people.
They are to be the outlet for all the pent up love you have for God. Loving others is to be the expression of our live for God.
CONSLUSION: Jesus says to love God
You need to be born again
God must become the key feature of your life
You will need to become wholehearted in your devotion to him
Your love to him must touch the practical parts of life: obedience and giving yourself to others.