God’s Law: Love God, Love People
An expert in the law, tested him [Jesus] with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
There is no commandment greater than these.”
Matthew 22 . 35-40
Any questions? Pretty simple & clear, to me.
Religion thrives on rules. Relationship thrives on love.
God is love.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him… God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.
Taken from 1 John 4:7-21
When it comes to “holiness”, religion and religious folks focus on behavior and behavioral change as the crucial elements.
God does not do this. There are times when our actions can be destructive and like a good dad, he nudges us/steps in but it’s not his focus.
God focuses on our hearts.
The prophet Samuel wrote: “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance (behavior), but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Every day we are surrounded with people who portray one thing but are up to another thing. That’s called being fake. We all are familiar with this, especially if we have had a job in a corporate-type setting, a position in government or volunteering at our kids’ schools, for a few examples 😉
When our hearts are right, our behavior will naturally flow in a holy manner.
Behavior is like a sign/symptom which manifests from the state of our heart’s “health”, so to speak.
If we have a messed up heart that is bitter, angry or resentful, that’s like cancer. We can talk to ourselves with happy thoughts and imagine pleasant imagery but if we don’t get to the root, the disease will keep coming back.
If a sink faucet is broken and flooding your kitchen, you don’t start mopping frantically in hopes of solving the problem. That is what focusing in behavior does.
To fix the flooding you must stop the faucet leak at the source. Do that and I promise the flooding will stop, then you begin the clean-up. That is what focusing on the heart does.
Our hearts are the source of everything that flows from us.
King Solomon of Israel, son of King David (of David & Goliath fame), is widely considered the wisest man to have ever lived. He said, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Not everyone with good behavior has a good heart (eg. fakes, con-artists) but everyone with a good heart will have holiness in their behavior, provided they don’t make dumb choices. Often this remedies organically as we grow in our personal faith.
I promise you this: If you focus on loving God and growing closer in your relationship with him and you truly love people by exercising grace, forgiveness, patience, generosity & humility, you will never have to try to act holy.
After all, there is no “acting” when you are something.
Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said:
Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.
It’s not a perfect quote for this topic but it relates well to the idea of acting like something you’re not. If you heart is right, your actions will be right, at least most of the time… we are human after all.
Love God, love people (starting with yourself), and true holiness will flow, I guarantee it.
Make a version of the following prayer for yourself. These are my words. You should never simply swallow another person’s prayer. You have a soul of your own and it yearns for intimacy with Jesus. Can’t get it quite right with someone else’s yearnings. Nothing wrong with a little inspiration though –
Jesus, help me break free from the perverted expectations of religion and the judgmental condemnation of religious people. Help me transform my heart into what you would have it be. Thank you for the freedom that comes with it, Lord.