Love Series, Part 4: No Greater Love
May 07, 2006
This sermon was presented before the Load, Kentucky, Church of Christ, on May 07, 2006. God is love. He loves His creation, and He loves His obedient children. He pours forth blessings on good and evil, just and unjust. He patiently waits for us to come to Him.
Love Series, Part 4: Complete Love
By Bernie Parsons
Presented to the Load, KY, church of Christ on 05-07-2006
We have, so far in this series of lessons on love, considered the love of God for mankind, the love of God for His son, Jesus, and the love of Jesus for us. Today, I wish to examine with you the completeness of love that we are to have for God.
Mark 12:28: “And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
29: And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
30: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31: And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
32: And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:
33: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
34: And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.”
The first thing that strikes me in this passage is that our love for God is to be complete. We are to love Him with heart, soul, mind, and strength. That is, we are to love Him emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically. We are to love Him completely, with all that lies within us.
The second point that stands out to me is that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. When asked what the greatest commandment in the Law of Moses was, Jesus answered His questioner by attaching the second greatest commandment, which was to love one’s neighbor as oneself, to the first, which is to love God completely. You cannot love completely without also extending to your neighbor at least as much love as you have for yourself.
The third thing that leaps out at me from this is that all the other laws were suspended from those two. That is to say, if one understands and practices those two laws, all other necessary things will fall into place. This concept is so important that we need to focus a good deal of attention on it, and what it means for us as Christians.
Religion, for so many, is just that. It is something that they blindly execute in a repetitive way. Because their church says so, their parents said so, or some preacher that they admire says so, they follow a hollow ritual time and time again.
God expects more than this. He asks for total commitment from us. To some that may sound as if it means to withdraw into a convent like Roman Catholics nuns have done in the past, or to a monastery, as some Roman Catholic religious me have historically done. That is not what God has asked of us. Instead, He has asked that we put Him at the forefront of our daily thoughts and activities.
2 Timothy 3:1: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2: For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3: Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4: Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5: Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
God gives us pleasure in the form of good things to enjoy.
1 Timothy 6:17: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;”
James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
The danger comes when we allow our love for the pleasures of life to crowd out our love for God.
1 John 2:15: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16: For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17: And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
As Jesus said in the parable of the sown seed in:
Mark 4:18: “And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
19: And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”
We must never lose sight of God, and what He does for, and means to, us. We won’t lose sight of Him, if our entire life is built around Him. The Jewish leaders who lived during the lifetime of Jesus on earth had a problem that is prevalent today:
Matthew 15:1: “Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
2: Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
3: But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
4: For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
5: But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
6: And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
7: Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
8: This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9: But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
People professing Christianity often substitute man-made religiousness for God’s righteousness. What is righteousness? It is the keeping of the commandments of God. The father and mother of John the Baptist were said to be righteous.
Luke 1:5: “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
6: And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”
Jesus said in:
John 14:15: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
John 4:21: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
1 John 5:1: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
2: By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
3: For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”
Our love for God is manifested—clearly shown—when we keep His commandments. We have already looked at the two great commandments, one of which is to love our neighbor as we love ourself. Now, look at the other commandments.
Luke 18:20: “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.”
If you look at each of those commandments, it has to do with loving your neighbor. When you love your neighbor, you show your love for God, because you are keeping the commandments of God. See how all these other laws depend upon loving God, and your neighbor?
1 Thessalonians 4:1: “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
2: For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
3: For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
4: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
5: Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
6: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
7: For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
8: He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
9: But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
10: And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;
11: And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
12: That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.”
The commandments are about loving one another completely. Recall what Jesus said in:
Matthew 25:34: “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37: Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38: When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39: Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40: And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Our love for God is shown through our love for His creation—humankind. Our salvation depends upon this great love for God and His creature. If you hope for your soul’s salvation, then love God, and love your neighbor, and your reward will be realized.
Romans 8:24: “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25: But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
26: Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27: And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
It is hard for us to imagine the wonderful things that God has in store for those who truly love Him.
1 Corinthians 2:9: “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
But, if we will love God completely, we will one day understand His love for us.