Dear Brethren and Friends,
I am sure that God is honored when we ministers try to give all of you detailed instructions on marriage and family, how to keep the Holy Days, how to understand end-time events and other important issues. These things certainly are very important. They are vital to help all of us develop the fullness of Christ’s character.
But now, I would like to get back to a truly foundational understanding of true Christian character which we must never forget. We should often review the most basic issues and build all of our other understandings and practices upon them. The topic I want to help you focus on now is the “greatest” commandment of all. So, obviously, nothing is more important than getting this one thing straight, and then acting on that precious knowledge! In Matthew 22:35–40, Jesus Christ Himself responded to what could have been a challenging question. Jesus was asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” (v. 36). Then the very Son of God answered, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment” (vv. 37–38).
How should we truly love God with all of our heart, strength and mind? How should we actually fulfill this greatest and most important commandment of all?
Although there may be a number of approaches to this topic, one “key” is the example of King David of Israel. Notice how the author of the book of Acts describes God’s view of David. “And when He had removed him [King Saul], He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will’” (Acts 13:22).
None of us is perfect. So the example of David is especially helpful when you consider the faults David had—and yet realize how important David’s entire attitude was to God. This attitude was so exemplary that God looked beyond the human mistakes David made and loved him, forgave him, honored him and has already committed in His inspired word to make David—under Christ—king over all the nations of Israel in Tomorrow’s World. Notice Jeremiah 30:8–10, “‘For it shall come to pass in that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘that I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,’ says the Lord, ‘nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet, and no one shall make him afraid.’”
How did David exemplify the attitude that God loved so much? The answer is that David made God the very center of his being! He walked with God, talked with God, constantly thought on God’s word and God’s law and had a constant relationship of love, worship, honor and obedience to his Creator. If you read the story of King David’s life in Samuel, Kings and Chronicles and of his thoughts throughout the book of Psalms, you quickly realize there have been very few human beings in all history who so continually sought God and deeply wanted to honor Him, obey Him and worship Him in the way that David did. David continually “sought” for a closer relationship with his Creator. He “meditated” on God’s law and statutes continually—even during the night seasons. Notice: “With my whole heart I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!” (Psalm 119:10). Again: “I remember Your name in the night, O Lord, and I keep Your law” (v. 55). And again: “At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You, because of Your righteous judgments. I am a companion of all who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts. The earth, O Lord, is full of Your mercy; teach me Your statutes” (vv. 62–64).
Obviously, off and on through the entire day and even in the “night seasons,” David sought God. He “delighted” in thinking on and meditating about God’s greatness and power—His beauty, His majesty, His glory and His righteous ways as exemplified in His laws. David stated, “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation” (Psalm 119:97–99).
Over decades of “walking with God” David proved to himself—as I have done—that God’s “way” and His inspired laws bring understanding and blessings. For God’s laws show us the right way to live and they always “work” for good—to the extent they are followed. Each one of us needs to realize that, and worship the great God who gave us such a magnificent law and way of life. David delighted in God’s goodness. Again, he stated, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:103–104).
One of the wonderful ways God reveals Himself to us is through His magnificent creation. David constantly delighted in the intricacy and beauty of the creation around him. He could “see” God’s marvelous and thoughtful hand in all of this—and so he honored and worshiped his Creator by meditating on these things. David stated of God that, “He appointed the moon for seasons; the sun knows its going down. You make darkness, and it is night, in which all the beasts of the forest creep about. The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their food from God. When the sun rises, they gather together and lie down in their dens. Man goes out to his work and to his labor until the evening. O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions…” (Psalm 104:19–24).
We should all remember David’s inspiring words in Psalm 8:3–5, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little [while] lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor.” King David meditated on the magnificence and power of God’s creation, which moved him to sing and worship continually: “I cling to Your testimonies; O Lord, do not put me to shame! I will run the course of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart. Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end” (Psalm 119:31–33).
So King David "loved god with all his heart" by meditating on and appreciating his wonderful law, by meditating on and exulting in God’s magnificent creation and all the beauty around him. By "seeing" that God’s law and way really works well for those who truly "seek" God and obey Him, David worshiped God. This, then, is the next basic "key" to loving God with all your heart - and not "kidding yourself" about "loving" God in a merely sentimental way. For, remember, God found David, "a man after My own heart, who will do all My will" (Acts 13:22).
Millions of sincere Protestants, Catholics and others say they “love the Lord.” To an extent, they may realize the magnificence of His creation and the fact that it is all based upon continuing laws and principles that are unchanging. They may even realize that the principles in the Ten Commandments are good. Yet they have various arguments and “excuses” whereby they somehow get around the need to obey what God says. They seem blinded to the fact that when the young man came to Jesus asking the way to eternal life, Jesus answered, “But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). But we—who ought to be truly “conquered” by God and willing to do His will—should realize that all real “love” is, in fact, based upon obeying the commandments of God. As Jesus Christ tells us in the book of Revelation: “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).
And please never forget the direct definition of “love” given near the end of the Bible—after the point where the Protestants say everything was “nailed to the cross.” The inspired Apostle John tells us near the end of his life: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). So God’s “love” is expressed by a human being actually keeping God’s way of life and His commandments—which commandments express the very nature and character of God Himself. Again, as the Apostle John was inspired to tell us, “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:4–6).
Please think carefully about these verses. They indicate that—although someone may “know about” God—he cannot really “know” God except by actually keeping God’s commandments—therefore experiencing the love of God through Jesus Christ living within him. By that experience of exercising the very character of God and “walking with God” in this way, we will come to “know” God in a personal and profound way that is not possible in any other manner!
In verse 5, God tells us that we must “keep His word” to have the love of God perfected in us. For Jesus Christ said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4). And in verse 6, John tells us that if we are to “abide” in Christ we ought to walk or to live as Jesus Christ walked and lived—not some inferior or “different” way. For it is clear and understandable to virtually all scholars of all denominations that Jesus Himself did, in fact, keep God’s Ten Commandments. Jesus directly stated in John 15:10: “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”
Therefore, dear brethren, we really do need to love God “with all our heart, mind, strength and soul.” But we must do it by constantly realizing the magnificent beauty and awesome intricacies of God’s creation and worship Him and His magnificence as revealed through everything we see around us in the world and in the entire universe. Every beautiful little child, every loving young couple in a God-ordained marriage, every wonderful piece of music, every majestic mountain scene, every beautiful sunset or sunrise, every good and perfect gift comes from God.
We should love and worship our Heavenly Father for all of this and so much more. Then we should love and appreciate the fact that He has given us a wonderful law, an enormously helpful and loving way of life that brings blessings to the extent that it is obeyed. And then, as God spoke about David—“a man after my own heart who will do all My will”—we must not ever “kid” ourselves about it but seek with all our hearts to fully obey the Ten Commandments. We should seek daily and hourly for Jesus Christ to live His life within us through the Holy Spirit. As the Apostle Paul was inspired to write: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, KJV). Then, it will actually be Jesus Christ living within us through the Holy Spirit, and we will constantly walk with God, talk with God, worship God and genuinely love our Creator and our Father in heaven in all the ways described above.
We will then “know and know that we know” that God is truly with us and that He will never leave us or forsake us because we truly love Him (Hebrews 13:5). We will know this because we truly have learned to actually love our Father and our Creator with all our heart, strength and mind. This is the first and great commandment. Let us “seek God” with all our hearts and learn to obey this magnificent instruction which will lead to eternal life in the very Family of God!
With Christian love,