Jesus said, ” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment.” (Mt. 22:37-38)
- Loving God with all our heart is the first commandment because it is the first priority in God’s heart. He desires that we would consciously cultivate a response to Him of wholehearted love.
- Loving God with all of our heart is the great commandment because it is the one that encompasses all else. It is the one that steadily takes over every area of our lives, from our thought life, our words, relationships, to the way we spend time and money. If we truly give ourselves to loving Him entirely, we will in time love our neighbor as ourselves and be given to extravagant service, yet with a heart burning in the sustaining fire of intimacy.
- The only way to fulfill the Great Commandment is to fall in love. Love is the only way into such extravagance. The command demands a holy lovesickness, a fierce passion for God. And we know that with every command God gives is the inherent promise of His grace to fulfill it. He was not only commanding, but prophesying: “You shall love the Lord your God…”
- Cultivating a responsive heart of extravagant devotion to Jesus takes time and deliberate effort. Love does not grow automatically but rather it automatically diminishes unless intentionally cultivated. A responsive heart to God, renewed in freshness and tenderness, is precious and rare, to be guarded with great care and renewed day by day. We do the greatest commandment well, when we disciple our selves to feed our hearts on His love. His love for us fuels our love for others!!
- Satan’s first priority against the Church is to lead us astray from cultivating the ability to be responsive to God with wholehearted love and extravagant devotion. If Satan leads us astray from the purity of devotion to Jesus then our service and love for others will eventually fail.
I am afraid, lest as the serpent (Satan) deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (2 Cor 11:3, NAS)
The Spirit is restoring the first commandment to first place in the Church worldwide. By God’s grace we must consciously cultivate the ability to be responsive to God with wholehearted love. 37Jesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38This is the first and great commandment.” (Mt. 22:37-38)
- Loving God with all our heart is the first commandment because it is the first priority to God. It is called the first commandment, not the “first option.” Scripture makes it clear that extravagant wholehearted love for God is the highest and greatest lifestyle. “If you love me you will obey.”
- Loving God with all our heart is the great commandment because it is great in its impact. It impacts God’s heart, our life, and the life of those we love, in this age and in eternity
The church of Ephesus was one of the great revival centers in the early church (Acts 19-20). Yet, they did not sustain freshness in their love for Jesus. They became workers for God above being lovers of God. “Lovers will always outwork the workers.”
1To the…church of Ephesus write, 2“I know your works… 3you have persevered and have… labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5Remember from where you have fallen; repent…or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand… (Rev. 2:1-5)
- Serving God and others without a foundation of extravagant devotion to Jesus often leads to burnout and disappointment. Thus, our service is not sustained over decades. Without encountering Jesus’ heart in love (intimacy with God), we often work as slaves instead of a bride who is refreshed as she labors. Loving Jesus in our work and obedience frees us from striving. Burnout doesn’t come from working too much, it comes from working with a wrong spirit. It can be hard to press in and wait, but it is much harder to live life without the Holy Spirit.
- In a desire to keep up with popular ministry trends, some regularly change direction in ministry. We must not get our ministry focus from the latest trends, but rather from God’s Word. We are not left guessing as to what God delights in. He wants us to make the first commandment first.
- Do you remember when you felt the joy of abandonment to Jesus when you first heard the call to extravagant devotion? The Lord wants that freshness to be renewed in us over and over. This requires cultivating a responsiveness of love to God. We must not allow any substitute for the real thing, nor allow our experience to be reduced merely to the language of devotion.
The Wholehearted Nature of Love
- The Father gave everything to us in His only Son: The Father gave of His only, the Son of His love, the only begotten. He drew out of the bowels of His eternal being and spared not that which He held most precious, most costly, most beloved. In the giving of His only Son, He gave all without reserve (Rom. 8:32; Jn. 3:16).
- The Son gave everything to us in His own life, death and resurrection:Christ, the Son, poured Himself out in love unto me, giving Himself up for me utterly, not just in the giving of His physical life unto death, but in the free offering of all of His excellencies, His beauties, His preciousness and His own righteousness, indeed the essence of all that He is, He has entrusted to me, giving me His Holy Spirit (Gal. 1:4, 2:20; Eph. 5:25; Tit. 2:14).
- God wants not workers but ‘laid-down lovers’ or those who want to love in an extravagant way by grace because of His love that laid down His life for us. 2 Cor 5:15 shows He gave all so we would be moved to do the same. Greater love has no one than in the laying down of the whole of his life for another. Jn. 15:13