MOUSEY MOMENT … LOVING GOD AND OTHERS: THE HEART OF TRUE FAITH
This month we are launching our second Holy Habit – the Habit of Fellowship. The dictionary definition of ‘fellowship’ is ‘a friendly feeling that exists between people who have a shared interest or are doing something as a group’ – doing things together. That camaraderie comes from a shared love of God and others. But how can we show that love? What things can we do together to express that love?
What Does God Really Want from Us?
It’s easy to get confused about how to please God. One Bible teacher details a long list of the commands you should be keeping. The next teacher says only grace matters. Who is right?
Centuries ago, in answer to this question, Jesus simplified all the rules and regulations of the Law into just two great commands: love God and love people.
These two commands define the heart of Christian faith. As we rest in the certain knowledge of what God calls us to do, we are challenged to live these commands out and discover how obeying Jesus’ simple commands will transform not only your lives but also the lives of those around us.
Love requires action. It’s not something we try to get for ourselves, but instead is an action we express to others through sharing and serving.
I believe there are three different forms of love God has instructed us to demonstrate, or “live out.” And each one needs to be balanced, so they can work together.
1) Loving God
Deuteronomy 6 v5 says, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ Jesus later repeats this and even labels it the most important commandment of all.
So, how do you express love for God? By telling God, “I love You”? Singing praises to Him? These are good things, but they only scratch the surface.
We show God we love Him through obedience because actions definitely speak louder than words. It’s tough, and we won’t always feel like we want to obey. But I believe our desire for obedience grows as we continue to experience His love, goodness and faithfulness in our lives.
2) Loving Yourself
In the New Testament, Jesus said the greatest commandment of all is to love God with all our heart. But He also added the second greatest commandment: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. (See Mark 12 v31)
There’s something important here that I think people often miss: You cannot give away something you don’t have in you. How can someone love another person if they don’t love themselves? We all need to accept ourselves – our personalities and imperfections – knowing that although we are not where we need to be, we are making progress. God wants us to love ourselves and our identity in Him!
3) Loving Others
God’s love is a gift to us; it’s in us, but we need to release it to others through words and actions. Left dormant, it will stagnate like a pool of water with no outlet.
1 John 3 v14 says, ‘We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.’
Life, in this verse, is the life of God or “life as God has it.” And loving others is the only way to keep that God-kind of life flowing through ourselves. The act of loving others is one of the most exhilarating things we will ever experience. I feel excitement stirring in my spirit when I do something to make someone else feel loved and cared for. And you can experience the same exhilaration just by “loving out loud.”
How many of you like to play sports? What sport do you enjoy playing the most? Football? Soccer? Basketball? Maybe it depends on whatever season we happen to be in at the time. Well, since we are at the beginning of the football season, let’s think about the most important part of the game of football. Do you think it might be all the skills you need to play the game? How to tackle your opponent safely? How to block the ball? How to dribble the ball past your opponents? No, these things are important, but what is even more important is what to do after you score. Sooner or later, someone is going to score, and when they do, they will celebrate! Have you ever watched how footballers celebrate! Some players do a special dance. Others may jump up in the air giving “high fives” to their teammates. And many footballers will run around with their finger up in the air so that everyone knows that they are ‘number one’! Their team may be behind by a score of 40/7, but at that moment, they are ‘number one’!
Do you know what I think? I think that is the biggest problem in our world today. We all think we are ‘number one’ at some point in time and the most important thing in life is our own happiness. We put ourselves first. But ‘to love your neighbour as yourself’ is very different to thinking we’re ‘number one’. Very few of us give much thought to the happiness of other people. The only way we can love others as we love ourselves is when our greatest love is for God. When we love God more than we love ourselves, then we will be able to love others as much as we love ourselves.
So – how can we continue to grow in love?
Here’s a challenge: Think of three people you know who could really use a gesture of God’s love. Then think of creative ways you can express His love to these people – and do it! I guarantee you will feel a wonderful sense of fulfilment and joy afterwards.