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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


The Greatest Commandment

February 24, 2013

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30, NIV)

In answer to the question from the religious expert as to what was the greatest commandment, Jesus responds by quoting Deuteronomy 6:4.

How easy it is to get distracted and become so busy in religious things and spiritual fads of the day. I knew a pastor who was always riding the wave of “what’s next” in his personal life and spiritual leadership. He focused on what was the “new” thing God was doing, and often that “new” thing was either not described in the Bible or was peripheral to its message.

He asked me one day, “George, what new thing is God showing you?” I probably answered flippantly because I was young and judgmental. But I said to him, “Well, what the Lord is showing me lately is that I must love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.” For me, as a Christian, the main things are the plain things; and the plain things are the main things.

The words “your” and “all” are each used four times in Jesus’ reply.

Why the focus on “your”? Because love toward God is personal. You must make it your mission. And, the word is singular, not plural; therefore, Jesus’ command is for you and not for a group en masse.

The word “all” is far more difficult. I don’t know that I can do that. Would “love the Lord your God with some of your heart,” or “most of your heart” fit us better? Aren’t our heart, soul, mind and strength often divided and spent on many things?

How do we respond to that word “all”? Are you loving Him completely with your affections (heart), with your intellect (mind), with your inmost being (soul) and with your efforts (strength)? Surely, the Lord has given each of us a daunting and perhaps impossible task when He said “all.”

But “all” is a word that is limitless and therefore brings with it the prospect of continued growth and maturity. It provides us a goal to reach for, one that in this life you may never completely fulfill. “All” represents an aspiration, but it also speaks to us of how short we fall from living up to the relationship God seeks with us.

In the sacrifice of the cross, Jesus truly fulfilled God’s love toward you — for God has loved you with all His heart, soul, mind and strength. Love is not love if it is only commanded. You cannot order anyone to love you. The only way another will love you is if you give love. Love then becomes a response to love far more than a response to a commandment.

When Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:4 as the answer to the man’s question, He satisfied the orthodoxy test since He quoted from the Scripture. However, He knew the only way to possibly fulfill that command was for Him to go to the cross and demonstrate first God’s love toward us.

When you see how dearly God loves you, then you respond to God’s love — not because He’s ordered it, but because His love for you has been demonstrated and thereby evokes from you the strongest passions. Then you can begin to move toward fulfilling what He asks — to truly love Him with your “all.”

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, forgive me for loving You partially and incompletely. Help me to give You the “all” You seek from me.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

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