The Lord Christ Jesus declared with four “with all’s” that the first and great commandment is, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30
I have talked to many people that confessed they have never reached that degree of commitment. I frequently wonder if I have attained it. It certainly doesn’t feel as if I have reached it. The question is, why did God put such a commandment in His word if we could not obey it? Furthermore, if we cannot obey it, does that mean we should not be concerned about falling short of success?
I do not believe that degree of commitment is unattainable, but that it requires us to submit daily to God’s will. I was counseling a young man that had committed serious sins and was suffering the consequences. I informed him that he needed to be fully surrendered to God. He replied that he thought he had done that long ago. And yet sin greatly prevailed.
For some strange reason, many Christians believe that full surrender to God is a one-time commitment. However, we wake up each morning with new challenges to our efforts to live godly. Christ said that we must take up our cross daily and follow Him. (Luke 9:23) If we are being overcome by evil, how can we claim our long ago surrender is still effective?
It takes the highest standard of commitment to obey the first and greatest commandment. It is a daily commitment, a fresh commitment, and continually developing commitment, and there will be setbacks. When we fail, we must put the negativity of setbacks behind us and renew our commitment.
The fact is, successfully obeying God’s will is the measure of our commitment. I cannot count the number of people that claimed they could not discern God’s will. What they mean is they cannot hear the Holy Spirit. He dwells in every true Believer, so we should all be able to hear him.
However, we have God’s word that clearly states His will. If we daily tried to live up to the truth in those verses we would be committed to His will.
As we obey God we realize that love for Him increasingly takes over more of our hearts, minds souls, and strength. Loving something or someone more than Him is a point of contention with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Truth that leads us into all truth will not let us get away with sinning, so why would He disregard our loving anything more than God? Expect conviction when that error is committed.
Now the great problem of professing Christians is revealed. The overwhelming majority want to love many other things and activities and also love God. They confess this flaw often. They admit to loving sports teams, sports in general, music, hobbies, movies, et cetera X 100.
By “love” they likely mean something stronger than normal or they would use the word like.” I’m not certain that in most cases the attraction rises to the definition of love. However, it can be an obsession. Then it is love that has a throne.
I confess that in the past I became obsessed with golf, fishing, hunting, playing music, numerous hobbies, TV, and other activities and interests. I would defeat one by sheer willpower, only to transfer that affection to something else. I also have known the failure of trying to feed an obsession and maintain a vibrant relationship with God. It cannot be done. The moment one comes before God’s throne with an obsession lodged in his or her heart, praying becomes a formality—if anything.
Sadly, some professing Christians have gone on for years attempting to balance their obsession(s) with a commitment to God. Gradually, they will find substitutes for the absence of blessed joy and awe of His presence. The majority turn to something that can kindle their emotions, such as music, demonstrative preaching, or perhaps an exciting church meeting with religious calisthenics.
Eventually, they may realize as I did that there is no substitute for the awareness of God’s presence via the Holy Spirit. Nothing in life can substitute for the inexplicable feeling in one’s spirit while wholehearted heart praying and worshipping God. When our love for Him is not shared with things and activities that make a constant and unrelenting demand for priority, we truly have uncluttered communion with Him. Furthermore, love grows and intensifies.
Thus, if we are going to love the Lord God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength, we have to identify and reject the things and activities in our lives that compete with our love for God. And that is the major battle every Christian engages. We will argue, hide, explain, complain, bargain, pout, make small concessions, and even identify conviction as “legalism,” and in the end retain our obsessions. We may even make them sacrosanct.
That takes my article back to this statement.
“Now the great problem of professing Christians is revealed. The overwhelming majority want to love many other things and activities and also love God.”
That problem cannot be solved by legalism. One has to spend quality time each day, preferably in the early mornings, communing with God. He or she has to prioritize reading and studying God’s word. Next—and this is where the footing gets slippery and Satan is very sneaky—we must set our minds on heavenly things.
That does not make us good buddies for the professing Christians that believe they have autonomous liberty “in the Lord.” But you will love God as His title requires.
If that is the greatest commandment, why would anyone think they can obey Him in everything else when they cannot obey that one commandment. Shouldn’t we at least try and try every day until we depart this jaded world and it’s relatively worthless attractions?