Summary: It was the practice of Jewish teachers to try to sum up the hundreds of laws into great overarching principles that people could focus on. In Mark 12 we see an encounter a teacher of the law had with Jesus in this hope of discovering the great “one thing
WHAT THE BOOK SAYS ABOUT LOVE
HOW’S YOUR HEART?
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Pastor Brian Matherlee
In the movie City Slickers 39th birthday of Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal) and he is not happy about it. His two friends are having crises of their own and they buy a cattle ranch vacation for themselves and Mitch. They meet the gruff, tough trail boss (Curly) who immediately clashes with Mitch. But during the ride Mitch and Curly must go after some stray cows and they bond. It’s during this time that they begin talking about the meaning of life. Curly tells Mitch that he must find the “one thing”. He won’t tell him what it is…just that he must find it for himself.
We all like the idea of boiling life’s purpose & key down to one thing. We can concentrate on “one thing”. But what one thing should we focus on?
It was the practice of Jewish teachers to try to sum up the hundreds of laws into great overarching principles that people could focus on. In Mark 12 we see an encounter a teacher of the law had with Jesus in this hope of discovering the great “one thing”.
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
This is known as the “Great Commandment”
Here a teacher asks Jesus out of a legitimate desire to know. He had just heard Jesus debating the Sadducees and silencing them with his incredible understanding and application of the Scripture. This man is like Mitch Robbins. He is open to hear the truth.
Do you know that is the key for us today? We have to be open to receive God’s truth.
Jesus quotes the Old Testament law of love as the greatest thing. Love is the conscious choice to reserve our lives for someone or something else. We give ourselves to it. This commandment spells out the fact that it is to be a total giving of oneself to God.
Jesus says we’re to love with all our:
• Heart=affections & passions
• Soul=trust with my eternal destiny
• Mind=thoughts, plans, dreams, learning
• Strength=actions, efforts, abilities
It is good to know what the greatest commandment is. But can we do it? Have you been able to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength?
Why is it so hard?
Ezekiel records a time in the life of Israel when they had found out it was impossible for them to love God with everything in them. But God was going to do something for them.
Ezekiel 36:26-27, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
Within each of us is this heart like stone.
• It is rigid
• Stuck and firmly entrenched in “my way”
In salvation God removes the heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh:
• This heart lives & breathes
• Can grow
• Can be offered
This imagery shows us that when we ask God to forgive us of our sins He does something miraculous. He takes the desire of opposition and defiance towards him away and puts within us a desire to be molded and shaped for him.
And then He gives us the Holy Spirit to transform our desires so that the things we never thought we would want—we find ourselves longing for and pursuing. This is God sanctifying us.
Being sanctified has two aspects:
• I am set apart for God’s use
• I begin and grow in a process of becoming pure
Allowing God to work in us ties together these two passages:
• I can love God with all of my being when I allow God to remove my old heart and give me a new one that will be willing to follow.
Being holy is not about a list of do’s and don’ts.
“Holiness is first and always about love. Anything else is a rabbit trail. We will speak often of holiness as living with power, or as living without sin, or as a baptism of the Spirit, but in its purest form holiness is a matter of love.” —More Than Forgiveness by Steve Deneff