We love Him because He first loved us. 1John 4:19
God in His mercy reached out to us first and showed us that He loves us and cares about us! It is His transforming love that opens our hearts to love him back. Our love relationship with the Lord did not originate with us, and neither did our good works brought it about. God initiated the relationship. Jesus, His only begotten son, came to show us the love and the commitment of the Father to a lost world!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5
But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
Jesus said to him, “‘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. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:34-40
Jesus was the personification of the love of the Father, and His great sacrifice declared God’s great love towards us! He came to show us and teach us God’s ways. Interestingly, when a Pharisee asked Jesus about the greatest commandment, Jesus did not give him any new information, and neither did He give him a new law! Although, the Pharisee was trying to trap Jesus in saying something that was against the law, Jesus responded with the very words of God from Deuteronomy!
In reality, God had required His people to love Him from the beginning, but they tried to keep the law without having a heart to surrender themselves to the Lord. They were comfortable doing their religious duties apart from a relationship. As a matter of fact, they created additional rules to ensure that people were following every minute detail lest they sin in the absence of concrete information!
Obviously, apart from Christ, they would not have been able to develop an intimate relationship with God. Nevertheless, many of them were blinded with their works thinking that God was impressed with their sacrificial obedience of the law! However, in reality, they were not seeking the heart and the mind of the Lord concerning their spiritual state. The religious people were too busy impressing themselves and others that they could not admit the hollowness of their activities. On the other hand, it was the down and out, the sick, and the sinners who were hungry and thirsty for spiritual matters, and they were not afraid of admitting it and searching for the truth.
Similarly, we may also think that as long as we keep the law, we are doing what God is asking us. It’s so easy to fall into that trap. In addition, many times the people around us measure our love for God by our activities, which makes it difficult for us to be focused on our relationship with the Lord. However, there is more to loving God than just obeying the rules. I will continue with this subject in the next devotional.