I’ve been really digging into the Word and a theme keeps emerging. Does God do this to you too? When He is trying to get my attention, reveal a truth to me and get it thru my thick skull, my tough flesh – He just comes at me from all angles to show me His heart for me.
He never leaves me where I am.
That is a promise I can proclaim on high!
I’ve read Matthew 22:35-40 many, many times. But this week God kept bringing it to my heart and I knew He wanted me to see it with fresh eyes. When the expert of the law ask which commandment was greater, Jesus responded with v37 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
What does that really mean? In order to love God with all of my heart, I have to be diligent and guard my heart. Proverbs 4:23 says to guard your heart and in 2010 I wrote a post about it (I love how God has continued to work a better understanding of this in my heart over the years). I said this to a friend the other day and she said, “OH, I have got that one down! If I’ve learned anything it is to protect my heart from others!” Sigh. That isn’t what this scripture is referring to – God doesn’t want us to put up walls and block relationship. In fact, that is the opposite of what God wants for us. He wants us to keep our eyes on Him and to guard our hearts from anything that separates our heart from His. Anger, bitterness, jealousy, resentment – they all block relationship with others and with God!
v 38 says “This is the first and greatest commandment. v39 “A second is equally important, Love your neighbor as yourself.” (NLT) Did you catch that? EQUALLY important. It is equally important for me to love and have relationship with my neighbor as it is to have relationship with God. My neighbor is ANYONE who comes into contact with me; my husband, my children, my parents and family, the friend who hurt me, the grumpy bank teller. The book Sacred Marriage says that marriage is to make us HOLY, not happy. God uses relationships to refine us, grow in us and draw us into holiness…deeper relationship with HIM!
Proverbs 18:1 says that a man who isolates himself seeks his own desire, and he rages against all wise judgement. Proverbs 14:10 says the heart knows its own bitterness – nothing is hidden from God. All He wants is our hearts. He doesn’t want us to withdraw from others, from Him. He wants us to walk in relationship and strengthen and encourage one another in our faith (Romans 1:2). When Jesus is talking to Simon Peter in John 21:15 he asks “Do you love me? …then feed my sheep, tend to my sheep, feed my lambs.” His heart is for us to care for one another in relationship.
So here is the nugget! v 39 says “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The question is not who is my neighbor, but rather
How much do you love yourself?
**note join me here as we talk about loving ourselves and what that means…