“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.”—Mark 12.30
This should be our number one goal for this upcoming year—that we would love God deeper this year than ever before. That our unique friendship with the God of the universe would evolve into greater intimacy. We can begin by asking the Lord for higher levels of trust in Him, understanding that He is good God who deeply loves us, and makes decisions for our lives based out of His endless love for us.
“And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”—Mark 12.31
The next thing to consider is do we love ourselves well? You might be raising you eyebrows at me here. Maybe that sounds selfish to you? But I know from experience, watching those who serve in leadership, that if we do not set healthy boundaries for ourselves we will eventually burn out, leaving nothing left to give the Lord or anyone else for that matter.
I can’t stress this enough, God actually wants you to take care of yourself. It is so important to understand that when we love ourselves enough to say no to competing demands, we actually love others better. It also allows us to experience greater successes in the areas where we choose to say yes. We can invite the Holy Spirit to increase our levels of discernment and wisdom in when to say yes, and when to say no.
Finally, we should work at loving others, to the very best of our ability. Love never fails, no matter the situation.
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”—1 Corinthians 13.4-7
When we allow ourselves to be transformed by the love of the Lord, it isn’t always easy. It takes years sometimes to peel back layers of pain, hurt and rejection from a dysfunctional form of worldly love that we may have bought into before we accepted Christ. However, our Heavenly Father is the ultimate and only source of true love. If we forgo important time, inviting Him to define love for us, we will fail miserably trying to meet needs that are not ours to meet.
When I am grappling with how to love others in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, I often will find time to set aside and read the above verses. Then I might ask the Lord which type of love are you asking of me here? Is this a time for tough love? Is this a time to believe the best, even though the circumstances look grim? Is this a time to endure some hard things in order to expose an issue that desperately needs to be resolved? Living in relationship with people is never easy, but it is always worth it in the end.
Most importantly we want to be filled to overflowing with the love of the Father as the year continues to progress. There are many ways to experience the Jubilee of His abundance: mind, body, spirit, will, and emotions. Let it be our desire to take this year of great joy and purposely delight ourselves in Him!
“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”—Psalm 37.4