Can you love God with ALL your Heart? I Don’t Think You Can
Matthew 22:37-40 explained. You might be surprised to learn, but you’re really not able to love God with all of your heart, mind, and strength. And good luck loving those nasty neighbors.
DISCLOSURE: before we get started, I am not teaching anyone not to love God. That would be insanity. I am not teaching people to hate their neighbor, that would be extremely nonproductive. So relax, and try to hear my heart as I explain the context of Matthew 22:27-34
Re: Matthew 22:37-40 Love God with all your heart, strength, and mind. And love your neighbor as you love yourself. In these two commands are all the law and the prophets.
This one is kind of tricky and catches a lot of people off guard. These verses are quoting commands, and sometimes if we’re not careful we can think these are new commands that are applicable to Christians under the new covenant. But, to see the context we have to rewind one verse and read Matthew 22:36.
They were asking Jesus what the greatest commandment in the LAW was. Some people may think they’re hitting a home run and loving God with every ounce of their heart, mind, and strength. As humans, I can assure you we are all falling short. And I’m pretty confident that, while some of us may be better at loving our neighbors, we all would fall short and have breaking points when our neighbors offend us. No one will be found righteous by any command in the Law. And we are definitely naïve if we think we’re doing really good at it loving God with ALL of our heart, mind, and strength, let alone our not-so-nice neighbors.
But later Jesus comes along and says ‘a NEW commandment I give you’. Believe in the Son and Love others as I have loved you. This love is more of a ‘passing along’ teaching. Yes, both are wrapped up in love. But one you can actually do, the other you can only hope to do okay with.
I know it may seem like semantics, but that slight difference in being commanded to love with every ounce of your heart, mind, and strength is indeed different than being asked to love other people as Jesus loves us. Under the law, you will get as much love from God as you can muster up from your mind, heart, and strength. Under law, if you don’t forgive, you WON’T be forgiven. Under Grace, you’re not pleasing God by law keeping. God loves you always. Even when you’re not doing so good at loving your mean neighbor. Even when you’re not doing so good at loving God with all your heart, mind, and soul. You have something founded on better hopes and promises. Because your reward is not found in your human effort and ability to love perfectly, but rather it’s found in Jesus.
Two covenants. One old, one new. One of them you can’t do, and when you don’t, God will turn his back on you. The other one comes with a promise that God will not turn his back on you. He promises he will never leave you or forsake you. And that promise doesn’t disappear even when you’re not doing so good at loving God with all of your heart, mind, and strength, or that mean neighbor.
Take away. Oh yes, love God. How could you not? Love your neighbor. There’s no gain and hating them. We don’t want to encourage you to do differently. But we do want you to know that these are not threats to Christians. These were commands found only in the law and given to Jewish people.
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Author: Mike Cynar
Mike Cynar was raised in a church setting where he frequently noticed that many attendees would eventually drift away. The church labeled these individuals as ‘back sliders’ or ‘fake Christians’ just looking for ‘fire insurance’. However, Mike realized the issue was rarely with these individuals but instead with the church’s message itself. The teachings heavily emphasized behavior improvement and one’s flaws, with only a fleeting mention of one’s identity in Christ. It felt as though every sermon was tailored to the church of Corinth, who as we know or committing sins that even unbelievers don’t partake in. This trend was noticeable not just in one denomination, but across Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, and many other churches. Upon understanding the true essence of the gospel – that our righteousness comes from Jesus’ actions, not our own – Mike was inspired to liberate believers from lifeless sermons and reconnect them with the genuine teachings of Jesus. He believes that one can nurture a vibrant and growing bond with Jesus, unhindered by rigid religious practices. And thus, “Jesus Without Religion” was born.
It turns out that it is grace that leads to repentance. And if our heart is to get others to walk in the Spirit and live a godly life, then the best approach is not a beat down sermon, but rather to remind other that it is only when we understand our true identity in Christ that we will live it out. Yes, it’s true, if you’re convinced that God thinks you’re a dirty sinner, you will ultimately continue a lifestyle that mirrors that view, but if you truly believe that even on your worst day, you are called holy, sanctified, justified, and will be presented blameless in the end, well, it turns out this is the secret to living out on the outside what has been worked in to the inside.