The Great Commandment

love

If I asked you what the greatest command was, what would you say? If I asked you what the second greatest command was, what would you say? If you answered that the greatest command was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul mind and strength, you were correct. If you said the second greatest command was to love your neighbor as yourself, then you were correct again.

Those were pretty easy questions that anyone even remotely familiar with the Gospel’s would know. What we may not know is what it looks like to love God and love others and how this love demonstrates our devotion to Christ.

There is a very real connection between our devotion to Christ and our treatment of others. This is true whether we are talking about believers or unbelievers. But I believe Scripture teaches there is a special love that believers should have for other believers. When we are saved, we are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). Theologian Dr. Robert Picirilli says, “When we are saved we are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. The local church is the most practical way in which that ‘body’ unity is manifested, because the local church is like a miniature copy of the great universal body of Christ. One of the most meaningful blessings of being saved is belonging to a fellowship of fellow believers. We are not left to go it alone, because we have the help and encouragement of each other.[1]

Within the church we are to maintain a certain balance. We are to be consumers and contributors. We need the church for encouragement, fellowship, to be strengthened in our spiritual lives, to be challenged in our spiritual lives and to be taught from God’s Word. This is consuming. At the same time, we are to be involved in serving, giving, helping, and the overall health and ministry of the church. This is contributing. When we are in balance we consume and we contribute. When we are out of balance we consume or we contribute but not both. As we consume and contribute we strengthen other believers and we are strengthened ourselves.

There is no way to read the New Testament and argue with the fact believers are to consume and contribute to the church. The question is why we are to do that? We have to remember that the why always matters. God cares as much, if not more, about why we do something as He does about what it is we are doing. Why do we interact with other believers? Why do we serve the Lord? Scripture is clear that serving God in an effort to earn our salvation or righteousness actually keeps us from Christ (Galatians 5). Our salvation and righteousness are always gifts of grace. They are never earned.

Why then do we do what we do? The answer goes back to the questions I asked you at the beginning of the message. We consume and we contribute because we love God and we love other believers. The mistake that we often make is to limit love to something we feel. Biblical love is not an emotion that simply embraces all, forgets all, forgives all but requires nothing. If you read 1 Corinthians 13 and look at the way Paul describes love, you would see that it focuses on the way that love functions. In other words Paul doesn’t really spend a lot of time telling us what love is, instead he focuses on what love does.

 

This week I am going to write about how our love for God and other believers impacts what we do.

For further study read Romans 12:9-13.

In what ways does our love for other believers impact our relationship with them?

In what ways does our love for the Lord lead us to serve Him?


[1] Dr Robert Picirilli, The Book of Romans, pg 247

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