I had praying one night a few months back and God brought to my heart a familiar verse, “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.” And I remember trying to figure out the depth of that scripture. So what I made the mistake of doing was the “ Thinker,” that I am analyzed it piece by piece. “ Where was I not loving God?” but I soon learned loving God the way I’ve come to know is not the whole of it. I could love him with my heart, but would not mean I would never desire something in the world and fail at this, I could love him with all my soul, and then my emotions can play games and I might not always “feel,” like loving Him, I may love Him with my mind, but my mind is a battlefield and is distracted easily by other things, and I may love Him with all my strength, but I get weary without a good amount of coffee, so I know that I would never be perfect at that either.
God showed me it was never about the ways I loved Him, it was what I believed about Him, that I would love Him for who He is. I could never be content just realizing what He has done. I had to recognize that I love Him when I realize He is all that matters.
Anyone can love someone for what they’ve done. We hear news stories about heroism daily, but how many will sit down and listen to stories that do not pertain to bravery and courage? How many would sit down to just know and love the person for who they are?
I learned that I truly love Him when I recognize He is everything and more. When we truly want to know who He is.
He is more than my job and its stresses, He is more than the people I care about in my life and how I stretch myself thin at times to be there, He is more than what I find I am best at, and where I struggle to become better…
If I love Him when I say He means everything then that says I love Him by what I have seen Him do, but if I say I love him because He is everything then that means I love Him for who He is.
People who get into relationships with people by what they can “ give,” them, will find those relationships do not last. To have something last you have to want to really know someone, appreciate who they are, their personality, their likes and dislikes, and accept them for who they are and there is balance of “give” and “ receive.”
If we are not also giving God our time to worship Him, If we are not in the Word, if we are not in church “breaking bread,” with others and giving of our time, then we will only be those who are on our knees praying to God to give us things, and answer our prayers and we do this selfishly, because we don’t want to give back to Him. And we are all selfish in one way or another in this area, if not right now, we have been in the past.
We are not loving God when we only ask for what He can do for us; We fail to love Him just because.
It makes me think of the rich young ruler from Luke 18:19-
This rich young ruler walked up to Jesus one day. Perhaps we can imagine him with a long robe, and gold chains hanging from his neck, he might have been carrying gold in his pockets, and he might have even had a servant with him carrying food.
“ Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” I have to wonder in asking this question if he might have thought he could, “ buy,” it. I can imagine Jesus turning around and looking at this man, “Why do you call me good?” “No one is good except God alone.” He goes on to share, “ You know the commandments: “ Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.”
I picture the rich young ruler putting his hand over his heart, “ All this I have kept since I was a young boy.”
And then Jesus tests him…
Jesus says to him, “ You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasures in heaven. Then come follow me.”
Essentially here I believe Jesus was really saying without saying, “ You want to learn how to love me, because you are asking how to have eternal life, and only through me will you have it my friend, and to do this, I ask you to leave everything to follow me, if you do that, then following me above all else, means you love me.”
The rich young rulers face might have changed to discouragement, and he might have hung his head in shame, because being rich was his identity, it’s the only identity he chose to have. It meant more to him then earning eternal life.
I can see Jesus look at his reaction and say, “ How hard is it for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Or He could have also added, “ You rather love what you have then who I am.”
We too can find at times in our lives we could relate to this rich young ruler.
Obedience is not easy folks, because it takes humility. But we show our love for God in our obedience.
Jesus endured it being whipped 39 times, he endured it carrying a cross for miles, He endured it while hanging by nails. So if something is asked of us, we do not have much room to ignore it, because to carry our cross means we give everything we have an empty ourselves of who we are for a greater cause.
We lay down our lives.
Jesus did it out of love. We must learn to love Him in that way too.
So who could teach our dear rich young ruler how to respond to give up all he owned to follow Jesus?
I have to wonder how Peter observed this encounter with Jesus. I have to wonder what was going through his mind when he watched the excitement the rich young ruler had and then change to full despair and walk away.
Peter could have shared with him the story of how he left everything he owned to follow Jesus, He could have shared with him about how with Jesus there would always be enough like the feeding of the five thousand, he could have shared with him about risking his life to get out of the boat just to meet Jesus on the water, and he could have shared with him that Jesus knew what He was talking about. I wonder if that day if anyone did talk to the rich young ruler, or if he went home and closed the door alone.
Peter loved Jesus. He knew Jesus because He walked with Him, He saw face expresssions, he learned Jesus personality, he saw his reactions, he got to know how Jesus would respond to things. He loved Jesus because He learned who He was.
Lord may that be us.
“All of you is more than enough for all of me, For every thirst and every need, you satisfy me with your love, and all I have in you is more than enough.” – Chris Tomlin, “ Enough.”