You cannot command people to love.   Even so, Jesus did.

Matt 22:37 "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." (KJV)

Matt 22:39 "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (KJV)

Love is one of the most important and powerful emotions a person can experience. It is what allows people to form close friendships and relationships with others.   Think about how you feel when you tell your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, child, parent or sibling, "I love you," and mean it.   What is it really like to love someone?   Not just love them, but love them so much that you just cannot cope without them?

This is the kind of love that God wants us all to have for Him.

Just look at the Matt 22:37 scripture again for proof of that.   "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul, and all thy mind."    This is not just a favor God is requesting of  us.    It is a LAW.   It is absolutely required that we have this kind of love for Him in order for us to be able to stand before Him and be judged worthy of His presence.    Not only is this a law, but it is the single most important law that God has given to us.

Matt 22:38  "This is the first and greatest commandment." (KJV)

Now put that scripture together with Matt 22:37, the scripture which 'just so happens' to directly precede it, and you know that God means business here.   Why is God so insistent that we have such love for Him?    The answer is surprisingly simple:

He wants us to return in full the love that He has for us.

Now wait a second, some of you may be thinking: does God, the Supreme, Almighty Creator of the universe itself, really love insignificant mortals so much?    Before that question is answered, you are going to need to do something.    Take that word in the preceding sentence, "insignificant," and THROW IT RIGHT OUT THE WINDOW!    No longer of use is it to you.    Mortal men and women are most certainly not insignifcant in the eyes of God.    Skeptical?    Read the most famous Scripture in the whole Bible.

John 3:16  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (NIV)

Now think about what Jesus did for mankind. Jesus, the one and only-begotten Son of God, became a mortal man and did the following:

 He endured continuous, vigorous persecution.

 He was impaled on a torture stake until He died.

 And most important of all- upon his death, He was separated completely from His Heavenly Father, God, until His resurrection three days after His death.

Why did he do all this?     So that mankind might obtain salvation from death.

Think about that, folks!   This is like you or I giving up our humanity and becoming a cockroach and being eaten alive by the biggest, baddest roach in the nest, so that other roaches might be saved from death.   Can you fathom a love that deep? It just boggles the mind.   And yet this is the love that God and Christ feel for mankind.   Why?   They are seeking men and women to adopt as a spiritual Family for Christ.    Family looks out for family (at least that's the way God and Christ see true family).

Of course, the love many men and women feel for God, while strong, does not match the love that God feels for man. To understand the difference better, let's look at the following scripture.

John 21:15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."  (NAS)

There doesn't look to be any difference, does there?  To see a difference, we need to go to the Interlinear Bible.

Simoon    looannou     agapas         me   pleon            toutoon

Simon       of Jonas   lovest thou     me   more {than}   these?

4613          4074         25                 3165   4119              5130

Note that Jesus used a conjugation of the Greek word Agape. Strong's Dictionary (which are the numbers above) says about this word: "To love, in a social or moral sense; (be-) love (-ed)."  (KJV)

Now let's look at Peter's response, again in the Interlinear Bible:

Nai    Kurie    su    oidas    hoti    filoo    se

Yea    Lord   thou  knowest  that   I love   thee.

3483   2962   4771   1492    3754  5368   4571

There's the difference.    Christ used the word  "Agape"  while Peter responded with a conjugation of the Greek word Phileo.   Strong's dictionary says about Phileo:  "To be a friend to; (fond of [an individual or object]); i.e. have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling; while Agape is wider, embracing especially the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety; the former being chiefly of the heart and the latter of the head); specifically, to kiss (as a mark of tenderness). KJV- kiss, love.

Christ feels Agape love for people.    Peter, however, only said he had Phileo love for Christ.    This is understandable when you know the human limits of love.   In John 21:17, Jesus accepted this by asking Peter if he had Phileo love for Him.     Peter, though grieved at being asked again (this was the third time) if he loved Christ, said he did 'have affection' for Him; and Christ answered:  FEED MY SHEEP.    Anyone familiar with how Christ always spoke knows that He meant, "Spread the Good News to the people."

That brings us to another thing.    My father has a little quote he always likes to mention when people talk about how they love family.    He says, "My mother always used to say, 'Don't tell me that you love me.   Mop the floor.' "    In other words, show someone that you love them, through action, rather than just verbally saying, "I love you."     Christ did the very same thing with Peter in John 21:15-17.    Each time Peter said, "I have affection for you," Jesus answered, "Feed my little sheep."   Tell Christ that you love Him if you like, but more importantly-  show Him.   Preach the Good News to someone who will listen.

Now let's go back to the command, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul, and all thy mind."    God will help your 'Phileo' love for Him grow and develop until it matches the 'Agape' love He desires if you follow Him faithfully.

The second most important commandment is in Matt 22:39, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."   This would also be hard to do, especially if your neighbor is someone you have never gotten along with.   It becomes even harder when you know it extends to all peoples of the Earth- everyone- even the people you have long considered your worst enemies.    But that's what God says we must do.   Have you ever heard the song, "We are the World," sung by the collection of recording artists under the name "USA for Africa"?  Remember the line, "We are all a part of.... God's great big family?"  Truer words were never spoken.    Every man on this planet is your brother and my brother, and every woman on this planet is your sister and my sister; skin color, shape of eyes, country of ancestral origin and language spoken are unimportant and irrelevant.    We must love all fellow people as we love ourselves.   These two commandments go together.   You cannot say, "Okay, I'll love God and everybody else except for Joe Blow who works in my office." John summed that up very nicely in scripture.

1 John 4:20-21   If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

21  And He has given us this command: whoever loves God must also love his brother.  (NIV)

Think about that now for a minute.    If you hate that Joe Blow in your office, then your beliefs that you love God are LIES!    Do you want to be a liar in the face of God?    Read the following Scripture if you think there is anything the least bit acceptable about it.

Rev 21:8  But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."  (NIV)

Sobering thoughts indeed.    Just how much harder can the point that we must have love be driven home?     Is anything more important?   Read the following:

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or clanging cymbal.

2  And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

3  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.  (NAS)

1 Cor 13:13  But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (NAS)

The King James version uses the word 'charity' instead of 'love,' but if you look in the Interlinear Bible, you will find that good old word 'Agape' again.   If you want to hear about semantics and translations concerning different Bible versions, click here: Bible's credibility

You cannot command people to love.  Even so, Jesus did!

And he did so for a very good reason.

 Because love is that narrow path that leads to the Kingdom.  God puts you on this narrow path the moment you fulfill that command in your heart.


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