Where are my people that like to shoot it straight? Don’t beat around the bush, don’t give me fluff, just tell it like it is? Well I hope you’re listening this morning, because today’s devotional is for you. We’re reading in Matthew 22 and Jesus is being trapped with a trick question by people who wanted to make things more difficult. The truth is “difficult” serves some people. Some people make a living by making simple things really difficult. And some people make their lives miserable by making everything more difficult than it really needs to be. So an expert in religious law (enter my own gagging motion here) lays out his snarky question to Jesus “Teacher, tell us, which is the most important commandment in the law?”
And Jesus’ reply in verse 37 & 38 – “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Well that’s not what they wanted to hear. And the truth is, that’s hard for us to hear today. Honestly it would be a whole lot easier to have a list of specifics like “wake up at 5 am – make your bed – and keep your toilets sparkling clean at all times.” But this whole “love God with your everything and love others as much as you love your own self” – oh dang, that’s hard.
But Jesus’ reply is still true today, here’s the line up for this Monday. If you want to do this day right, LOVE GOD AND LOVE PEOPLE.
This is the most important thing. Love God and love people.
And here’s where we’ve potentially gone wrong. We’ve covered up the 2 most important things with all the details and routines. We’re just going through the motions and we’ve lost our heart to love. Maybe you’re even listening to this right now more out of obligation than out of an act of love for God. Are you seeking to check that “devotional” box on your daily checklist, or are you here to draw close to your creator and love him more?
Gotcha there didn’t I? Ahhhh, yes, me too. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of our routines and habits and make everything seem like an obligation – ALL WHILE WE ARE LOSING THE HEART OF IT.
God doesn’t need your devotional time. He wants your heart your soul and your mind. ALL OF IT. He wants all of it, all of you. Why? Because he ultimately wants what’s best for you and he knows YOU NEED HIM. Why do you need him? Because you were created to need him. You can never get this thing called life right without him. Maybe you’ve been trying to do this without him … and you wonder why it’s not working. It never will. The relationship won’t work without him. The business won’t work without him. The goal won’t work without him. Exhaust yourself trying, but you’ll see it’s true.
Revelations 2:4 says
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.
Remember when you were once hungry for God’s word? When you would sit down and get lost in your Bible? When you would pour out your heart in prayer? Have you forgotten how you used to love Him? How you used to worship? Remember back when you weren’t so DISTRACTED. Ahhhh, yes, that’s a big word. Distracted. Are you so distracted that you’re unable to love the way you used to?
Now let’s talk about our love for others. Do you remember a time when you used to do things for people from a loving genuine heart? When your yes was truly yes and you didn’t regret it 5 minutes later? Remember when you didn’t dread doing those loving deeds and acts? And now, it’s all a big chore.
You have to cook for them.
You have to clean for them.
You have to wait on them.
You have to have sex with him.
Oh it once was all an act of love, now the routine and habit of it all has grown old and we’re no longer acting in love, we’re acting in obligation.
STOP THAT. Stop it.
Love God, love people. Come back to your first love. I remember 24 years ago being a newlywed and feeling the excitement of getting to wash my husbands clothes. It was pure joy. I want to wash his clothes like that today. I remember 11 years ago after adopting our daughters waking them up for the first time in our house and serving them breakfast, looking at their sweet little faces. I want to look at them like that today. I remember when I used to open my bible to a random page and consume every word with such hunger. I remember when I used to pray daily on my knees, not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I want to do that today.
Let us come back to the heart of it – Love God, Love People. Let us not get lost in the routines and habits of it all. Let us not act out of obligation of all we HAVE to do, but a deep sense of gratitude for what we GET to do.
This is the most important thing you can do today. Get it right and everything else seems to fall in place. Get it wrong and welcome to another day of missing the mark. Love God, love people.
It makes me think of the lyrics of one of my favorite Hillsong worship songs titled “So Will I”. It says:
I can see Your heart
Eight billion different ways
Every precious one
A child You died to save
If You gave Your life to love them so will I
Jesus gave his life to love the people around you today. Don’t you think you can just love them? You don’t have to give them a dollar. All you have to do is love them. Jesus died to save them. Now you love them. And remember, it always starts at home. Not because you have to, but because you get to. Not out of obligation and routine, but because it’s an HONOR to get to love because first God loved you.
Don’t make it more difficult than it really is. Today you love.