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.’ All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
That’s it! When Jesus came to Earth, He abolished the law and instead laid down His life for us. Out of love, Jesus did this. When we read about Jesus’ life, we don’t see a man who is utterly concerned with being perfect in front of God and man, yet He is perfect. Jesus’ driving motivation was not to be good, but to BE love.
“He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)
Our God humbled Himself and came down to Earth as a man, to live a life full of suffering and to die an excruciatingly painful death on a cross so that we may be saved. Talk about love that does not even have a hint of selfishness! Jesus died for our sins and we don’t deserve it one teeny tiny bit! Jesus himself said:
“No one is good – except God alone.”
Mark 10:18 (NIV)
This means that Jesus came down from heaven to live a life full of suffering and die an excruciatingly painful death on a cross for bad people! Yes! I know! That is a hard pill to swallow. You and I are both inherently bad. Each and every one of us are sinners and in need of a savior. The only way we could ever possibly know God and go to heaven is if Jesus came and saved us from our own wickedness.
Even with this incredible act of love and mercy, it’s easy to fall into a pit and believe that you can work to make yourself a better Christian or become more pleasing to God. Can I be honest with you for a moment? If the motivation behind your actions is flawed, God doesn’t care if you give everything you have away or if you spend all night and day reading your Bible and volunteering at church. I see non-Christians every day doing “good.” They feed the poor, stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, and they give of themselves in an effort to help others. These are all things that Christians should do. BUT, the problem here is that these people are not Christians. Why? Because they don’t love God. Loving God should be the source of everything we do. If it isn’t, our efforts are in vain.
It can be easy to look out and see how others are fueled by the wrong things, but what about you? Why do you give to others? Why do you serve at church? Why do you spend time reading the Bible and praying? The answer is because you love God. Right? When I take a hard look at myself, I know that I love God, but are my motivations for doing good always pure? Sometimes I do good because I want others to see. Sometimes I do good because it makes me feel better about myself. Sometimes, I read my Bible and pray because I know I should. Sometimes I mask my selfishness with “loving God.” I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s easy to confuse loving God with loving what God has for me.
I want to live a good and blessed life and the way to get there is to follow God. Right? God doesn’t desire for us to live a life that is motivated by all of these fruitless things. God desires to have relationship with us. He already loves us completely because GOD IS LOVE. Now, He wants us to love him with every ounce of our being. You may be sitting there thinking, “I can’t just will myself to love God more.” I absolutely agree with you. You can’t. Loving is a gift from God, just like salvation is a gift from God. Just be honest with Him about your relationship with Him (He already knows anyway) and ask God to help you love Him more.