Richard Sibbes in his book A Bruised Reed said, “It is love in duties that God regards, more than duties themselves.”
When you get right down to it, that is exactly what Jesus says is the greatest commandment.
Mark 12:28–31 (ESV) — 28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
It’s not like God left us to ourselves on this one. We love Him and others, only because He set His love upon us and that love of His was set upon us long before we knew it. So it’s a flow of love from Him, to Him, and overflowing to others. Let’s look at this flow of love that begins with God’s love for us.
1 John 4:19 (ESV) — 19 We love because he first loved us.
Ephesians 1:3–10 (ESV) — 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Paul reminds us that it is important to comprehend God’s magnificent love for us. This is overwhelming, in a very good way.
Ephesians 3:14–21 (ESV) — 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Now think about it. God loved us and gave His Son to die for us. He continues to love us as He has called us to Himself. He gives us faith to believe in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and He assures us that nothing can ever separate us from His love.
Romans 8:35–39 (ESV) — 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Can you love someone who does all that for you? You do if He has set His love upon you because to love Him with all that is within you is simply allowing the flow of love that you have received from Him to flow back to Him and overflow to others. God is not an inspector of things we do as if He were looking for perfection because we cannot produce it. In fact, the best we have is described as filthy rags. However, when we give God our best from a heart of love, He delights in what we do no matter how feeble our best is.
Think about how freeing this is because it takes away some standard that you or someone else has placed upon you. It takes away the heavy burden of perfection as God tells us to give Him our best as we give Him our all out of a heart of love and it’s made acceptable to Him by Jesus Christ. No wonder Jesus called those who are burdened down with the heavy yoke of performance to come to Him.
Matthew 11:28–30 (ESV) — 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
1 Peter 2:4–5 (ESV) — 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
That’s not where love stops. As His love flows to us and returns to Him, it also overflows to others.
Psalm 23:5 (ESV) — 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
2 Corinthians 8:1–2 (ESV) — 1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.
Romans 12:9–10 (ESV) — 9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
So the challenge for today is not to perform, but to allow the love to flow as it comes from Him, returns to Him, and overflows to others.