Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40. KJV)
Jesus Himself said the number one commandment was to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. What then does loving God mean? It means that we love God with our whole being. With everything that makes us human; heart (emotional, passion), mind (cognitive, mental), soul (spiritual, prayer), and body (physical, energy). All that we feel, think, say and do should reflect our love for God. Jesus said ALL; therefore we should not hold anything back. We must love Him with everything.
The number one commandment is our love for God, what is the second? We must love our neighbour as ourselves. Most of us have no problem with the number one commandment but when it comes to number two we falter. How should we love our neighbour? As ourselves; and how do we love ourselves? We:
Who is our neighbour? All people; our best friends, our spouses, thieves, politicians, our enemies, Muslims, Rastafarians, street people, children, adults, etc.
According to 1 John 4:20-21 we cannot do number one (love God) without number two (love our neighbours).
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4:20-21. KJV)
Number one is manifested in number two. Jesus has commanded us to love our neighbours; in what practical ways can we demonstrate our love for them? We ought to know our neighbours so well that we are aware of their goals and aspirations, as well as their hurts and needs. We should meet those needs that they are unable to meet themselves.
Church members should not prefer to keep their needs to themselves, rather than share them, because they are afraid of others reactions, especially if it is because they did so and got burnt. Conversely if we have never shared our needs with others but feel we should keep our hurts and needs to ourselves; then we are not allowing our brothers and sisters to minister to us as Christ has blessed them. We are operating from a perspective that may be false or true but we cannot say for sure unless we share our hurts and needs. We should also not be upset if we suffer silently as no one can fill those of our needs that we will not let show. Pride, a weapon used by the evil forces in the spiritual war being waged for our souls, prevents us from sharing in love, the major weapon God uses to defeat those evil forces.
Our gifts and talents are given to us to serve our neighbours in the Name of Jesus. We cannot love God if we do not love the humans we come in contact with (1 John 4: 20-21). How well are you serving others? When was the last time you used one of your gifts to bless someone who was in need? The Lord has given each of us at least one gift that is the perfect solution for a need of someone in our sphere of interaction (usually, but not limited to, our Church home). Likewise He has placed a lack in each of us that can only be satisfied by someone in our sphere of interaction (usually, but not limited to, our Church home). When we can bring the two together we have the most fantastic spiritual fireworks that are beyond our wildest imaginings. You have work to do if you are not experiencing this on a regular basis. Congregations or auxiliaries may want to consider instituting a system where persons place their needs in a box and these needs are indicated to the congregation or auxiliary, without revealing who. Have persons indicating how they can help and match the need with a willing giver. Jesus said we, His disciples, should be known by our love. Can you be identified as a Christian by the love you are exhibiting?
Jesus himself said He came not to be served but to serve. “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister,” (Mark 10:45. KJV). Likewise we, His disciples, should not seek to be served but to serve. James, His brother, also said faith without works is dead. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:17. KJV) So we demonstrate our faith through the way we serve God by serving our brothers and sisters (neighbours) here on earth.
You may be asking: what are the benefits of my love in action? Firstly, Jesus commanded us to and therefore we should be satisfied in knowing we are doing His will; but there are other benefits for you and the person you are serving.
You will be judged by what you do for others because what you do for others (good or bad) you do for God.
Christ’s disciples must trust and love each other. Then the Church is truly alive and well.
Veronica V. Sutherland is an author, teacher, coach, speaker, minister, mother, and wife who is passionate about serving God through service to others. She ministers to busy Christian women by helping them to grow their faith through practising the spiritual disciplines to develop an intimate relationship with God.