“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” - Mark 12:30-31b
It’s interesting to see how these two great commandments go together!
First of all, the commandment to love God with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength is pretty straight forward. The key to understanding this is that it’s an all-consuming and total love. Nothing can be held back from loving God. Every part of our being must be fully dedicated to the love of God.
Though much could be said about that love so as to understand it in a deeper and deeper way, it’s also important to see the link between the First and Second Commandments. Together, these two commandments summarize the Ten Commandments given by Moses. But the link between the two is essential to understand.
The Second Commandment says you must “love your neighbor as yourself.” So this begs the question, “How do I love myself?” The answer to that is found in the First Commandment. First and foremost, we love ourselves by loving God with all we have and all we are. Loving God is the best thing we can do for ourselves and, therefore, is the key to loving ourselves.
The connection, then, between the two commandments is that loving our neighbor as we love ourselves means that everything we do for others should help them to love God with their whole heart, soul, mind and strength. This is done by our words, but especially by our influence.
When we love God with everything, our love of God will be contagious. Others will see our love of God, our passion for Him, our desire for Him, our devotion and our commitment. They will see it and be attracted to it. They will be attracted to it because love of God is in fact very attractive. Witnessing this sort of love inspires others and makes them want to imitate our love.
So reflect, today, on how deep your love of God is. Just as importantly, reflect upon how well you let that love of God shine forth for others to see. You should be very free in letting your love of God be lived and expressed in an open way. When you do so, others will see this and you will be loving them as you love yourself.
Lord, help me to follow these commandments of love. Help me to love You with my whole being. And in that love of You, help me to share that love with others. Jesus, I trust in You.