“You shall love the Lord your
God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might”
One of the ways to learn about something is to study
its opposite. Our Scripture is about love and so we will look at the
words of someone who instead conquered, destroyed and took from others.
Our quote is from a man called Temujin Khan who lived from 1162 to 1227
AD. We know him as Genghis Khan. He was the founder of the Mongol
Empire, which stretched from China, Korea and the Caucasus, to large
portions of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Here’s what he said: “The
greatest joy a man can know is to conquer his enemies and drive them
before him. To ride their horses and take away their possessions, to see
the faces of those who were dear to them bedewed with tears, and to
clasp their wives and daughters in his arms.” Horrible,
Last week we completed a ten-week study of the
Ten Commandments, considering how they apply to us right now. The Tenth
Commandment is the opposite of the words of Genghis Khan and it made all
the other commandments extremely personal by telling us - "You
shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your
neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox,
or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s" (Exodus
20:17). That commandment reveals our problem is deeper than the
outward sinfulness of idolatry, carved images, swearing,
Sabbath-breaking, disobedience, murder, adultery, theft, and lying. The
way God views it – if you merely WANT to do something wrong, coveting
whatever it is, you are guilty in the sight of God. And note the words
of James: “Whoever keeps the whole Law but fails
in one point has become accountable for all of it” (James 2:10).
It has been estimated by those who like to count
things that there are 613 Commandments in the Old Testament alone. Our
Scripture for today is a positive requirement in contrast with the “Do
Not’s” we have been studying for the past ten weeks. This is an
affirmative command to love the Lord our God with everything we’ve got.
Loving Him is incredibly REASONABLE when you think about it. If you can,
set aside any doubts you may have for a moment, and just THINK about
some of the attributes of God as He is presented in Scripture.
He is your Creator. You
thought you were created by your parents, or perhaps a mythical
character like Mother Nature, or possibly the stork, or blind chance, or
whatever. Psalm 139 is a good source for understanding – your body was
carefully “FASHIONED” by God, for His good
purposes. You may not like His choices, but
your stature, parentage, nationality, the good things and the “bad” –
it was God’s CHOICE, placing you in an optimum setting, enabling
you to see your need of the Lord and place your faith in Him.
He is your Judge. You
may think otherwise, but like the rest of us, you are incapable of
becoming what God wants you to be. After ten weeks of looking at His commands,
it is clear that we “fall
short of the glory of God,” as observed by Paul the Apostle in
Romans 3:23. As your judge, He does you a great kindness by pointing out
what you've done wrong. He shows what must change in order for you to live the rich,
full, loving life you have always needed and should have
wanted all the time. His judgment is for you to receive the
grace of God and be changed for the good.
He is your Savior. The
penalty our Judge has pronounced on us all is that “the
wages of sin is death,” and there is no way out, except that “the free gift of God is
eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). He became
our Passover, the innocent Lamb of God who died for your sins so you
might be forgiven and know His love forever.
When a group of religious leaders asked Jesus, “What
is the great commandment in the Law?” their question was designed
to trip Him up, to gain evidence so they might reject Him. His answer
linked our Scripture for today with another one. He
said...‘You shall love the
Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all
your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like
it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments
depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:34-40). The
second part, “love your neighbor,” is from
God, your Creator and your judge, has observed that
you, like everybody else, have fallen “short of
the glory of God” and He pronounced “death” at your
sentencing hearing. He is also God your Savior and He has provided a way
for you, simply because of His love.
The problem with “You shall
love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and
with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself”
is that, like the other commands to humanity - you can’t do it. Not
God’s kind of love. Genghis Khan demonstrated in his life and words the
opposite of the love that God expects from us all. He may have loved his
wife and perhaps his sons, but instead of “love
your neighbor,” his credo was: I will destroy them! If he was
asked, “Who is your enemy?” he would have answered, “Everyone!”
A well-known parable that gives us examples of not
only what love is not, but also what it is, can be seen in the story of the
“Good Samaritan” in Scripture. You can read about it in Luke 10:25-37.
Once again Jesus is asked a question by someone who wanted to “put
Him to the test.” The man smugly quoted the Scriptures we saw in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 – “Love
the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with
all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus agreed, and then the man, “desiring
to justify himself,” asked, "And who is my
neighbor?” (Luke 10:29).
The Jews of that time hated the Samaritan people and so
Jesus recited events that His listeners had
likely heard about. A man, apparently a Jewish man, was robbed, beaten
and left to die. A Jewish priest passed by and ignored the man’s cries
as did another Jewish man, a Levite. They did not want to be bothered.
But a Samaritan stopped, cared for the man, paid for his further care
and promised more. Jesus asked, “Which of these
three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the
robbers?” (Luke 10:36).
And of course, that's exactly what the Lord is
saying to you and me about what love is and how it is expressed. Jesus' answer
is: Do as the Good Samaritan did and you
demonstrate that the love of God is in you.
The one who had smugly asked, “who is my neighbor?” reluctantly answered Jesus, admitting that
the Samaritan was a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers. “The one who showed him mercy,”
he said. Jesus looked right in the eyes of the man who had asked the question and
said, “You go and do likewise” (Luke
We must ask: HOW can we be like that Samaritan? The key is found in places like 1 John 4:19 – “We
love (God) because He first loved us.” We are profoundly loved by
God and when we trust in Him, we receive His infinite grace. His love
fills us and we find a need to share it with others. We love
the Lord and we can love one another because “God
is love” (1 John 4:8).
Lord, we have cared for ourselves and
have neglected the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. We receive You
and trust in Your love. In Jesus Name. Amen.