Mark 12:28–31 28 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?” 29“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
This portion of Mark describes a wonderful interaction between Jesus and a teacher of the law. It is one of my favorites because this teacher recognized the truth. This teacher is one of the very few leaders who interacted wisely with Jesus. Jesus is asked to identify the most important commandment – which He does in quoting Deuteronomy 6:4,5.
Note how Jesus describes loving God. Jesus describes it as loving Him with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. This is something that you work at in accomplishing – not something that just happens. It requires intentionality and is all consuming. Also remember that this is the greatest commandment. Nothing is greater.
Let’s look at it from a different perspective. Consider loving God as an acquired skill. It is defined by a whole set of beliefs, attitudes, motives and actions. It has standards all its own, and Scripture details what they are. It involves learning the specific required skills in order to become good at it. In order to develop excellence, a great deal of practice is required. We might think of it as being lifelong apprentices – we never stop learning how to do it better.
When we were born again we became new in Christ. We were freed from the power of sin in order to become the people that God wants us to be. Jesus’ answer describes the people we are to become – lovers of God. But loving God goes beyond skill sets we acquire because it involves who we are as a person. Praise God, the Holy Spirit is the master craftsman, our personal trainer, coach, enabler and so much more. He is God’s gift to us so that this might all come about.
We may start out doing many of these things because we are supposed to, but as we embrace the process, the Spirit will transform us so that it all becomes a genuine expression of a life committed to Jesus. We more and more become that which we are doing. Loving God becomes the passion of our lives.