First and Second

When I first accepted Christ, I was discipled by a dear friend who gave me the Blackaby Bible study Experiencing God. It was the perfect study to have as someone who knew about God, but didn’t truly know God.

I studied about Who God was, what His promises were, and gained insight as to how I should set aside who I used to be so I could become who God saw me to be.  It was a rich, deep time of study and learning and awakening for me.  I was an eager student, ready to learn all that the Teacher was sharing.

One of the verses I memorized during that study came from Matthew 22:37-39, 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.’ ”

These verses resonated with me then as a new way to live life.  Now, twenty-five years later, I find them fuller, richer still, than I ever imagined.  Just as when Paul wrote about the Fruit of the Spirit, so too do these verses build on one another.

If we first love God with everything we have– heart, soul, mind, and in some Gospels, strength, then we cannot help but love others as ourselves.  When we align our choices with God, looking at things the way He does, reacting and acting as He would-with grace and mercy, compassion and justice, then we cannot help but show those same characteristics to those around us. Even those who see the world differently.

This kind of love is not the mushy, junior high school crush love; this love is deeper, lasting, soul-satisfying, soul-healing kind of love.  It lasts beyond time and began before time.  It is the kind of love that cannot fully be understood by our finite selves, but when we try to understand we get a glimpse of something from Heaven itself.

I find myself often repeating this verse to myself as way to remember that I am called to more than I can ever be on my own.  Through God’s supernatural self I can and do become someone who focuses on others, not for accolades, but because I want to, I am drawn to love them more than myself.  My wants and needs are not as important.  God’s plan and purposes are what matters.

I am reminded of a song by Margaret Becker which asks “What kind of love is this?”
What kind of love is this?
What You would lay down Your life
For someone such as me
I’ll spend my lifetime wondering why
The beauty of heaven chose here in my heart
To pour out His perfect gift
What kind of love is this?

This is a love beyond me and yet within me.  It is possible to do, but only through Him.



About gretchenr17

Wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend. Writer, farmer, fellow sojourner... at every turn I learn a bit more about God's wild mercies.
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