"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)
The teachings of Christ are many and I cannot hope to get into all of them in this one post, but I do wish to cover one topic today and that is what Jesus said about the greatest commandments of all.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Wow, that is a powerful statement. To say that all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. At first glance these commandments seem very easy, but if you have ever tried to love someone who has wronged you then you know these are not as easy as they sound.
I hear the expression 'Hate the sin not the sinner,' all the time, but I don't agree with that. As humans with human minds it is often difficult for us to separate the two. We see people according to what they do. If this guy killed someone and went to prison, he is a murderer. It doesn't matter that he may have come to know God through Jesus Christ while he was in there, the second we know what he did he is automatically labeled a murderer. We must push away from our prejudices and learn to truly love one another for just being a wonderful creation of God. Everyone may not return your love and kindness but its just as Jesus says;
"But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:35-36)
Here Jesus tells us how we should treat our enemies. He didn't say it would be easy, only that it is what we must do.
Only when we come to fully understand the first commandment and put it into practice can we hope to develop a heart that is open enough to love our neighbor.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the commandment that we must strive for. When I was first saved I thought that 'Love the Lord,' was no problem, I can do that, I already love Him. But, did I truly love Him? No. I fell back into my old ways within a few months of being saved and I backslid so far it took me 2 years to come back to Him. Learning to love God and give Him your entire heart, soul and mind takes some time and dedication. Giving your heart to Him doesn't mean that you truly love Him, truly loving Him means giving Him everything you have not just your heart. There is a big difference from what I call "Spiritual Puppy Love" and true love. Spiritual Puppy Love is the people you see that are just saved and they are so full of joy and happiness and they love God one minute and the next thing you know they have fallen back into their old ways without even blinking an eye.
Loving God is a learning process for all of us. I try to give praise to God every second of the day and I try to put Him first in everything I do, but there are those moments when I get upset and in the midst of my anger I push God out of my mind. I have finally reached the point in my walk with Christ where I can control my anger a little better and turn my mind back towards Him, but it still takes a little effort. Our human minds like to hold onto anger, we like to dwell on it, but if you do this long enough it will eventually eat a hole right through you. Not a visible hole but a spiritual hole.
Have you ever met someone who is just angry all the time? Doesn't matter what is going on, they could be at the park on a beautiful spring day with the person they love and they are still griping about something. Unfortunately this describes the majority of the world. They have forgotten how to love somewhere along the lines, they have a hole in their heart that has been eaten away by some event in their past. It isn't until they can learn to love again that the hole will be filled and the anger will be replaced. Lucky for us, for them and for the whole world we have the best teacher there is on the subject of love; Jesus Christ.
The word love is mentioned over 200 times in the new testament. Jesus' ministry was established on the foundation of love. As disciples we are to seek to become Christ like. This brings me back to the second commandment: "Love your neighbor..."
"As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
Jesus showed us the way to love by being an example for us to follow. As believers we need to be there for one another and willing to do what we can to help.
It is also important that our love for one another is evident to the rest of the world. As Believers we are under the watchful eye of the world and open for scrutiny. Non-believers watch us very careful, just waiting for us to slip up, so we must be careful in all that we do.