Summary: First of a two-parter discussing the idea that God doesn’t just want us to love Him from the "God compartment" of our lives - He wants us to love Him with everything in us.
Don’t Give God the Leftovers
September 14, 2008
NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT USED IN MY MESSAGES IS BORROWED FROM ANDY STANLEY’S BOOK, "COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE."
I hope you don’t mind if the sermon is a bit shorter today.
The topic we’re looking at today, the issue of loving God with everything in us, could actually fill a lot of time. Years, in fact.
But I felt that there was one specific thing that God wanted me to communicate today, and while I’ve added some commentary to it, and your note-taking guide has a bunch of blanks in it, there is one thing in particular that I want to make sure you leave with.
And if that’s all you get out of this message, I’ll be fine with that.
This issue of loving God literally shapes how you live out your Christian life. Whether it’s a life of substance, meaning, purpose, and effectiveness for God, or whether it’s just another life of someone who had priorities that don’t include God or else put Him at the bottom.
How we love God makes all the difference in our enjoyment of God and all His benefits.
My hope is that by the end of our time today you’ll want that kind of love to be what defines your relationship with God.
God: As we look at our passage for today, I just want to remind you of the context of what we’re looking at today.
The conversation in today’s Scripture passage is just one of a number of debates and teachings that take place on this day, which is just three days before He was crucified.
Just prior to this conversation, He had silenced two different groups of people who had tried to trap Him in His words.
And then the Pharisees came up to Jesus for one more crack at Him, and they ask Him a question that was actually a frequent topic of discussion and debate among the religious leaders themselves.
Matthew 22:34-40 (p. 699) –
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
37 Jesus replied: "’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
There are some really great sermons that discuss what it means to love God with your heart, with your soul, and with your mind, as well as how to love God with your strength, which we find in Mark’s account of this conversation, and I’ve even preached a couple of those sermons.
But I think that while that’s a worthwhile thing to examine on occasion, I can’t help but feel in my heart that God wants us to simply focus on what I think is the main lesson of this passage, and that is that we are to love God with everything in us and love those around us as we’d want to be loved.
From a biblical viewpoint, these three things aren’t separate categories of our life, but overlapping categories, and so the idea here is that our love for God needs to come from our whole person, our every ability and capacity. (EBC)
So often we tend to compartmentalize our lives. This is our work part, this is our play part, this is my family part, this is my money part, this is my political part, this is my God part.
We try to fool ourselves into thinking that we can just separate these different parts of our lives and they won’t impact any other part.
And the area that folks really try to do that in is the “God” part. Most folks are fine thinking, “Okay God, I’ll let you have Sundays. But that’s it. That’s my ‘God Day,’ and that oughtta be enough. I don’t want you getting into my work part, my family part, and I especially don’t want you getting into my money part.”
But according to Jesus, that’s not the way God want it. He wants the whole enchilada. He doesn’t want just the “God” part, whatever that is in your life.
I would venture to guess that most folks don’t even carve out enough to have a “God” part. They think about God rarely, if at all, and if they do think of Him, they’re likely to just give Him the scraps of their lives.
But you need to listen to this:
God wants all of your life, not just the leftovers!
God created you. He created you for a purpose. He created you to love you and bless you and to partner with you for His kingdom.