25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” 27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”
Christ had been talking with the leaders of His people, “experts” in the law. They were starting to see the truth, but were having a difficult time reconciling observance of the law with salvation. Like usual, Jesus turns their thoughts on their heads and instead asks them to simply summarize the law. Their response shows they had a good grasp of it, they realized loving God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and loving your neighbor as yourself was the focus.
The bible makes it clear that this passion for Christ, and loving others, is the outcome, not the path to salvation. The Holy Spirit, via the Apostle Paul, taught us. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” – Ephesians 2:8-9.
Our sanctification, or being made more holy and Christ like, increases greatly when we observe the next verse. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” – Ephesians 2:10.
We have been prepared to love God and do good works in His name. Loving God can sometimes be difficult to grasp. When we are regenerated we know we love Him. How can we deepen our love and relationship with Him? Here are a few suggestions:
- Learn who God is – The bible is a wonderful message from Him. The more we read and study it, the more we understand the person and nature of God. There are direct references describing who God is, however digging deeper uncovers key traits and bigger picture motives of our Lord. How can we love God deeply when we don’t know who He is?
- Learn what He has done, is presently doing, and will do for us – God gave Himself for us (John 3:16), but we sometimes don’t fully grasp what that really means? Reading and studying the bible, including the Old Testament, demonstrates the depth of His sacrifice. In it we learn key elements of the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We see the whole picture, why the earth was created, why we have been taken down this path, why certain events were put into motion. Finally, we learn about our glorious, forever future.
- Commune with Him continually – Continuous prayer is key to communing with our Lord. We see examples throughout the scriptures, even by Jesus Himself, that continual prayer brings us closer to God. This is the communication path God has provided to us for communicating with Him with the expectation we use it.
- Eliminate competing priorities – We are continually tempted by Satan and his demons to love the world and the things in it. Jesus explained it best, we cannot have two masters (Matthew 6:24). World events and the vagaries of life take away precious time we could use to learn about Him and commune with Him. We must continually fight competing priorities and live our lives knowing every moment is a precious gift. We were created for good works, not to please ourselves with the pride(s) of life.
- Start now – Even if you have little spare time, dedicate yourself to carving it out daily. Set the clock 15 minutes earlier and spend that time reading. Many online programs, such as blue letter bible, will allow you to read through the bible in a year in about 15 minutes a day. Even if you only have 5 minutes, make a promise to get started now.
Loving God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind and loving our neighbor as ourselves, seems to be a tall order. Other than Jesus, we only know in our own hearts if we are doing this. In response to His offer of salvation we agree to love Him as we ought to. That means focusing our lives on Him, learning who He is and developing a deep love affair with Him. It means loving one another and forgiving when it hurts. It takes effort and sacrifice, but as time goes on we will see it is worth every second. This will be affirmed forever in eternal glory.