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I Love You More

(John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.)

cross-2713354_1920The first and greatest commandment God instructed Moses to give the people of Israel was, “Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.”  (Deuteronomy 11:1).  In Matthew 22:36-38, when Jesus’s disciples asked him, “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 command.”  Loving God with all our heart, soul and mind was the first and greatest commandment of the law, and it was to be evidenced by keeping his commands.  If you tie the two together, the first and greatest command spoken by both Moses and Jesus would read, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind, and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and commands always.”  We seem to have forgotten the word “always” in that command.   I don’t think God would have said always if he hadn’t meant always.  Jesus, himself, tied the two commands of love and obedience together, stressing, “If you love me, you will obey what I command you.”  “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me,” and “If anyone loves me he will obey my teaching.  He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” (John 14:15).  We have pitted love and law against one another today, as if one could stand without the other.  Kevin DeYoung, author of The Hole In Our Holiness, writes, “To hate the law, is to hate God himself, who ordained the law to reflect his nature.  If you tell people law doesn’t matter, then neither does love, which is the summary of the law.”  If love does away with the law, it does away with the first and greatest commandment of God in the law, as well as the second, “love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love is a command of the law.  In Matthew 5:17, Jesus tells us, “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”  Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law, he simply wrote it in another place; the heart, the soul and the mind.  Hebrews 10:16 tells us,  “I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

Loving others rests upon us loving God with all our heart, soul and mind, because if we don’t love God with all our heart, soul and mind, we can’t love others.  It is our love for him that compels us to obey his teachings, and loving others is a part of his teaching.  When Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my teachings” he was saying, “You will obey my commands out of your love for me.”  Love, genuine love, comes from want to, not have to.  “God’s commands show us what God is like, what he prizes, what he detests what it means to be holy as God is holy.  To hate the law is to hate God himself, who ordained the law to reflect his nature.” (DeYoung).  Jesus was, “the word made flesh.”    His life was to be a reflection of God’s nature to us.   He never broke the law of God, he never did away with it, he reflected it.

We seem to have it a little one-sided today, I think.  We focus a whole lot more on God’s love for us than we do on our love for God.  There’s no doubt God loves us more than we could ever love him.  We only love him because he first loved us, but I think maybe we need to realize it wasn’t meant to be quite so one-sided as it has become today.  Jesus said, “If you love me.”  The proof of love is often preceded by an “if,” because love is in what you do, not in what you say.  It is shown in both commitment and conduct; what you do and what you don’t do.  Jesus was basically saying, “If you love me, you will put me first in both commitment and conduct.  Your focus won’t be on just my love for you, but on your love for me.”  When my daughter was a little girl, we used to play a game called, “Look Into My Love Eyes.”  The one who held the other’s gaze the longest was the winner, and she was always the winner.  She was relentless!  She simply refused to look away.  She won because her focus wasn’t on my love for her, it was on her love for me.  She won every time.  She loved me more.  That’s still the way she loves people today; relentless, focusing her love on others, refusing to look away, loving people more, even to her own hurt sometimes.  That’s how God loves us.

I was watching a television show the other night and one of the actors in the show said to another, “I love you,” to which the the other replied, “I love you more.”  That’s what real love is, loving more.  When Jesus said, “If you love me,” he was saying, “If you love me more than ______, and we have to fill in that blank.  We can fill that blank in with any number of things, but things ultimately come down to self.  We have to fill in that blank every time we love self more than we love obeying his commands.  We have to fill it in every time we put self before someone else.   We tend to forget that Jesus said, “Anyone who loves his father or mother, son or daughter, more than me is not worthy of me.”  Like it or not, Jesus expects us to prove our love for him, just as he did for us.  He made it simple; those who love him, will evidence it by obeying him, those who don’t, won’t.  Love is evidenced through obedience.   A. W. Tozer rightly observed the problem in saying it is not that man will not forsake his sins, but that he will not forsake himself.    What follows the “if” always proves the love.  Love not written upon the heart, will never be able to say, “I love you more,” because love not written on the heart will always love self more.  And according to Jesus, anything less than more is simply not enough.  God knew this.  God never asks us to do more than what he is first willing to do himself.  He knew that if he wanted us to love him more, he had to first love us more.

My mom is 91 years old, and whenever one of her loved ones tells her they love her, she almost always says, “I love you too, but God loves you more.”  She must have said it hundreds of times, and I must admit to never really considering the full truth of it.  She could have just said, “I love you more,” but she chose to point me to God’s love for me instead, because she wanted me to know that ultimately he loves us more than anyone will ever love us.  She couldn’t have given me a better comparison of the enormity of God’s love for me, because nobody in my life will ever love me like she does.  Love is a sacrifice of self for someone you love more, and she did it all her life for her family.  Because God is love, he knew he would have to make that sacrifice for his children, too.  It’s as if he said, “If I love them, ______, and he filled in that blank with Jesus.  Isaiah 52:13-14 tells us, “He will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.  Just as there were many who were appalled at him, his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness.”  Jesus’ visage and form was “marred beyond human likeness.”  I think Jesus was so disfigured upon that cross that people would look away from him.   They wouldn’t be able to look upon his face or hold his gaze.  And so he won; he loved us more!   When Jesus gave himself to be a sacrifice for our sins, to show us God’s love for us, he was saying, “I love you more.”  And it was more than enough.

I Love You More

When my daughter was a little girl
there was a game we used to play
called “Look Into My Love Eyes”
and try not to look away
As I looked into her sweet little face
I tried so hard to hold her gaze
But she was relentless and refused to look away
Her love was so intense I could see it in her eyes
I had to look away for fear that I would cry
She still wins that game today just like she did before
With a love so intense it says, “I love you more!”
That’s the kind of love we all need to show
because that’s the kind of love we all want to know
That’s the kind of love God has for you and me
And he hung it on a cross for all the world to see
Saying, “Look into my love eyes and hold my gaze if you can”
Knowing all the while that we would never win
Knowing less than more would never be enough to set us free
He gave the more of all his love when he died for you and me
There upon the cross with every stripe that Jesus bore
He said, “Look into my love eyes”
“And see I love you more.”

 

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