Have you ever been to a wedding where the couple began their vows stating the minimum amount of love they could promise each other? Imagine: “I promise to love you just enough so that our fights are minimized and so we can keep this thing going…Just enough so you won’t be mad at me… Just enough so that we stay married?” Sounds like the start of a great marriage…
The problem is that love never asks “What’s the least amount I can give?” We were made to love “exceedingly”, “richly”, “lavishly”, with everything. Every part of us. Unfortunately, our culture has redefined love on “what feels right”. Tolerance has been elevated to the “supreme virtue” of our time.
When we look at God’s definitions of love, Jesus defines them in accordance with what is most valuable in his economy: the 1st and 2nd commandments.
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is the first and great commandment. 39 “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ -Matthew 22:37-39
Dust off that old dictionary you have on your shelf and you’ll find that in Noah Webster’s original 1828 dictionary, the main citation/example for the word “love” was actually Matthew 22:37-39.
Loving God on God’s terms is the ONLY way to love. Love not walked out on God’s terms is not love; it is selfishness masked in religion or good feelings. This is lust, that thinks in the moment and lives for immediate gratification. But real love thinks long-term.
We are called to love God with everything because… wait for it… He loves us with His everything. This foundational truth that God loves us with everything empowers us to love Him with all our being as well (Mark 12:30). The Lord created us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength because He first loved us this way. (1 John 4:16, 19)
Check out this passage in which God declares His intentions of planting Israel again in her land never to be bothered, taken over, or ruled over again…
Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul. -Jeremiah 32:41
This is the only place in Scripture where it speaks of God doing something with “all of his heart”. All of it… Know we know He doesn’t do things half-heartedly, but this further exclaims that our God actually has a capacity to love us with all His heart, meaning all His emotions and affections. He’s not Stoic but an emotional God who bares everything for the sake of love.
In the garden, the Lord makes known His capacity for loving mankind…
Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very (Heb. מְאֹד meaning “exceedingly much/strength”) good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. -Genesis 1:31
On the sixth day (when man was created), God actually exerted all his strength/effort in loving mankind. Because we know He’s all-powerful we imagine He does it without effort or desire… Just the opposite. He gave His strength, His exceedingly much in creating mankind.
We can let His intense, all-encompassing, passionate love direct our hearts into the love of God (2 Thess. 3:5). What a beautiful picture of a God who is involved, who cares, and gives it all. For that is how love is best expressed…
Love… bears ALL things, believes ALL things, hopes ALL things, endures ALL things… -1 Corinthians 13:4, 7