Summary: We must slow down at God’s “yellow lights,” stop at His “red lights,” and proceed at His “green lights” for the highest reason - love. The absence of obedience just shows our rebellion and UN-love for God.
Opening illustration: One morning as I left Maureena for work, I began to wonder, why should I obey God’s laws? The answer played out as I approached a traffic light that had just turned yellow. A driver at the intersection waited to make sure I had fully stopped. Why did I stop? I asked myself. I could have made it.
Two reasons came to mind - survival and surveillance. I could be injured or killed. Or a police officer might see me and give me a ticket. Good reasons, don’t you think? But are these the highest motives? Am I concerned about other drivers?
Obeying God’s commands out of fear would reduce much of the wreckage strewn along life’s highway due to adultery, murder, lying, stealing, and coveting. But there is a higher motive. When Jesus was asked, “Which is the first commandment of all?” He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart,” and second, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Then He said, “There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).
Once we put our faith in Christ as our Savior and experience God’s love, our motivation for obeying His commands changes. That means we slow down at God’s “yellow lights,” stop at His “red lights,” and proceed at His “green lights” for the highest reason - love. The absence of obedience just shows our rebellion and UN-love for God.
Let us turn to Mark 12 in God’s Word and see Jesus addressing how to balance the 10 commandments.
Introduction: Wasn’t it Tina Turner who sang, “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” I am not certain about the full meaning of that lyric, nor does it necessarily pique my interest. One thing is sure, she is not singing about Christian love! Jesus repeatedly reproves his followers to love God totally, to love each other unconditionally, and to love one another.
Love has everything to do with the Christian life. Unselfish, unashamed and unrestrained love is the essence of kingdom faithfulness. The Apostle John understood this and wrote, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:8-9) Without love, everything else the believer does is of little significance or value. Today’s message will be a clear reminder of love’s priority in our faith.
How to love and obey God?
1. LOVE the Lord your God with all your HEART
Heart speaks to our emotions, the real me on the inside (Exodus 20:3).
First, with “all” heart. In the Bible we are taught that the “heart” represents the very core essence of a human being. Our actions, our motivations, our speech – all come from the very center of who we are. But here Jesus means even more than that. When He says we are to love God with all our heart He is saying we are to love Him with righteous sincerity and honest integrity.
We demonstrate that when we make a solemn promise to someone – perhaps saying something like, “I cross my heart and hope to die.” In other words, we stake our very life on that promise; if we don’t keep it we proclaim that then we forfeit our life. That’s making a promise with uncompromising sincerity.
We don’t want to live passive lives but long for it to be filled with fascination. We want our hearts to be consumed, to be apprehended. God knows this. He has put this desire in every person. Think about the many things people sink their time and energy into. I would think that if we are told to love the Lord with all our hearts that we ought to pursue it’s meaning. What does that mean to love God with all our hearts and how do we go about doing it?
• RECOGNIZE THAT OUR AFFECTIONS DETERMINE OUR DEVOTION
• UNDERSTAND THAT OUR AFFECTIONS FOLLOW WHAT WE TREASURE
• AIM TO MAKE JESUS YOUR GREATEST TREASURE
• SPEND TIME WITH THE LORD AND LET HIS LIGHT SHINE IN YOUR HEART
2. LOVE the Lord your God with all your SOUL
Next, with “all” our soul. What is our soul? Soul speaks to the spirit, the self-conscious life (Psalm 42:1-2).
It’s that mysterious, indescribable part of human beings that makes us unique amongst all God’s creations. It’s that part of us that is spiritually real – and, the Bible teaches, lives on when we die. Our bodies will die, unless Jesus comes back before then. But our souls – well – when we die they go to that place where the souls of the dead wait for the final day and the resurrection to come.