Matthew 22:37-40 (New International Version)
37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
God is love, and He loved us first, and if we do respond to the love of God with all of our heart and we allow Jesus to be actively at work in our hearts, He will help us to be channels of His love and compassion towards others, and all other law is perfected under the law of God’s love in Jesus. We will be empowered to love everyone around us, including our enemies, as we see them as God’s beloved children trapped in the clasps of the evil one, and we will have a desire for them to be set free by the power of God’s love.
John Stott explains this commandment of Jesus in a very clear way in his book “Why I am a Christian”1:
“If fish were made for water, human beings were made for love, for loving God and loving our neighbour. Love is the element in which humans find their distinctive humanness. As Robert Soutwell, the sixteenth-century Roman Catholic poet wrote, ‘not where I breathe, but where I love, I live’. He was consciously echoing Augustine’s epigram that the soul lives when it loves, not when it exists. An authentic human existence is impossible without love.
This brings us to the startling human paradox. Let me state it simply like this: true freedom is freedom to be my true self, as God made me and meant me to be. But God made me for loving, and loving and giving, self-giving. Therefore, in order to be myself, I have to deny myself, and give myself in love for God and others. In order to be free, I have to serve. In order to live, I have to die to my own self-centredness. In order to find myself I have to lose myself in loving…
So freedom is the exact opposite of what most people think it is. … It is the liberation from a preoccupation with my silly little self in order to be free to love God and my neighbour. Jesus himself taught this fundamental paradox of freedom. According to the King James Version, he said: ‘Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it’
…in modern English one might translate Jesus’ epigram like this:
“If you insist on holding on to yourself and living for yourself and refusing to let yourself go, you will lose yourself. But if you are prepared to lose yourself, to give yourself away in love for God and your fellow human beings, then in that moment of complete abandon, when you think you have lost everything, the miracle takes place and you find yourself.”
I pray that each and everyone of us would come to know the real freedom Christ died for us to have, that we would come to know that our real purpose here on earth is to be His representatives, and to experience and to flow in the love of God and to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to live in love. I pray that there would always be plenty of evidence in our day-to-day lives that we do belong to Christ and that we live out His life in this world. I pray that we may be lights for His Kingdom here on earth in our families, in our church, with our neighbours, with our friends and our colleagues and wherever else we go.
- Which is the highest law?
- Why is love so important for us?
- What is true freedom?
Stott, J.: Why I am a Christian, Varsity Press, pp. 95-97, 2003 ↩