The Law of Commitment is LOVE
When the expert in the law asked Jesus about the most important of all the commandments, Jesus encapsulated all of the law in two statements:
One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question:Mark 12:29-31 MSG
“Which is most important of all the commandments?”
“The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”
I chose to highlight Peterson’s translation from The Message because he doesn’t use the familiar words, heart, soul, mind, and strength, to love God. Instead, Peterson uses passion, prayer, intelligence, and energy.
- Passion – enthusiastic diligence, enthusiasm, zeal
- Prayer – spiritual communing, conversation
- Intelligence – reasoning, understanding, mental capacity
- Energy – vigorous activity, exertion
Jesus says that we love God with everything we have, thoroughly, without reservation. Our love for God is defined by complete commitment – not to rules or morals, but to our Creator and Redeemer.
The Psalmist’s picture of commitment
Trust in the Lord and do good;Psalm 37:3-6 NIV
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
The Psalmist outlines what commitment means with several verbs — trust, dwell, delight, commit, and do good!
Trust, Dwell, Delight, Commit
What does it mean to trust in God? The picture of trust is our lying down before God, wholly dependent on Him, like a servant waiting for his master’s next command or awaiting the will of the conquering general. Trust is complete dependence on God and our trust, and our faith is a gift from Him.
Another picture of trust is abiding, dwelling in the land, and finding safe pasture. As we trust God, we align ourselves with Him; we live, participate in His kingdom, and operate our lives under His rule and reign. And there, we are safe.
Surely God is my salvation;Isaiah 12:2 NIV
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.
When we delight in the Lord, we experience our greatest pleasure in Him. He is the One who satisfies our soul. There is great joy in His presence, even eternal pleasures at His right hand.
When our delight is in the love of God, our desires will be in the will of God. When we delight ourselves in the Lord, we will want the things that delight Him.Warren Wiersbe
This is commitment — trusting, dwelling, and delighting!
Our trust results in good works, obedience to His will and His way. As Jesus points out, when He teaches the expert in the law about the greatest commandment, our love for God is illustrated by our love for our neighbors.
Loving our neighbors
Loving our neighbors is about surrendering our “it’s all about me” attitude. It’s doing good to others because that’s the way we want to be treated – what we think of as the golden rule. Love is concrete – a determination to care for others responsibly, even those we disagree with. More than that, even those who are our enemies, who would do us harm! As Christians, we want everyone, sinner and saint, to flourish!
I’m telling you to love your enemies.Matthew 5:44-48 MSG
Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.
When someone gives you a hard time,
respond with the supple moves of prayer,
for then you are working out of your true selves,
your God-created selves. …
“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You are kingdom subjects.
Now live like it.
Live out your God-created identity.
Live generously and graciously toward others,
the way God lives toward you.”
My husband has often taught this definition of love, “Love is an unconditional, sacrificial commitment to the welfare of another manifested through intentional acts of kindness.” Wanting others to thrive and flourish – even others very different from ourselves, even those still far from God! In loving those who don’t know Him, we reflect who God is!
[Jesus] asks for a single-minded commitment to God and God alone. God wants all of our heart, all of our mind, and all of our soul. It is this unconditional and unreserved love for God that leads to the care for our neighbor, not as an activity that distracts us from God or competes with our attention to God, but as an expression of our love for God who reveals himself to us as the God of all people.Henri Nouwen
It is in God that we find our neighbors
and discover our responsibility to them.
We might even say that only in God does our neighbor become a neighbor rather than an infringement upon our autonomy, and that only in and through God does service become possible.
I pray today that we will be rooted and established in love, having power together to grasp how wide, long, high, and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge! Lord, may we be filled to the measure of God’s fullness with a single-minded commitment! May your love in and for us overflow in our world. Amen.