I still remember sitting at the round, white table in the hard chair with a cushion that had its edges picked at by a fidgety adult or a curious and unruly toddler. I was teaching a Bible study and was reading from the bible out loud as part of my “lesson” when these words jumped out at me. I had read them numerous times before, but this time, my axle stopped rotating. The entire cosmos inside of me shifted.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40
greatest meaning NONE greater
It made me stop and challenged me to re-evaluate EVERYTHING.
How I loved. Who I loved. Why I loved. What love is.
This is a really big conversation to have. In fact, I could write a whole entire book on this scripture alone and perhaps someday I will. I am not a head-knowledge-type-of-person. KNOWING stuff does not excite me and serve as some shiny badge and I will not be mastered by it so when I begin to feel overloaded by all this STUFF, even Jesus stuff, I shut down. I crave a very simple relationship and though I love to be challenged in my thinking so I can grow in how I respond, I believe deep in my spirit I have overcomplicated the very person of the Lord.
So long and short is:
Love is not contingent on how I feel or what I think.
Love does not require me to achieve or meet some standard; there is no winning it and there can be no losing it.
Love is a choice, much like forgiveness. Choose to accept it, choose to extend it. It is not pushy, aggressive, demanding or manipulative.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. -1 Corinthians 13:7
There is a lot to learn about love, but the most important thing I have learned over these years since sitting at that table, in that chair is this: Love is a person, the very person of Jesus and as I walk with Him and posture my heart towards Him, I learn to simply trust that He will show me how to love not only myself but others. There are many aspects of His nature to discover and I am only beginning to scratch the surface of WHO He is.
I had a vision a couple of weeks ago. I was praying for someone and they were really heavy on my heart. They were walking through hard things and all I felt I was to do was walk WITH them. Call them up, listen and pray. That’s it. I am finding my mouth is closed more and more as I try to listen to the heart to better understand it. As I was praying for them, I had this feeling of fear come over me and before I knew it, Jesus was before me and I said, “This is the only way I know how to love right now.” I was afraid it wasn’t right, that it wasn’t enough. Maybe I should point out the error of their ways. Maybe I need to give them “tough love,” but I just couldn’t.
I wanted to sit and listen and pray. I just wanted to BE with them in it.
In my angst, Jesus took my hand and He smiled a sheepish smile. He shifted His weight back to lift me off my seat and said, “You will not hear from me, “I’m sorry, you just didn’t love right.””
“August, just love.”
In His words were others, things that never needed to be said in order to be understood. The more I spend time with Him, the more I will learn to rest in the assurance that the posture of my heart is MOST important. The posture of my heart to see people as He sees them will never lead me astray or wishing I had done more in order to do right. I do not need to love like my neighbors loves, but I am commanded to love. I will trust Him to show me how.