I COMMAND YOU TO LOVE ME!
“This is my command: Love each other.” ~Jesus
Most of us have seen the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast, which was originally released in 1991. In one scene, the Beast is standing outside Belle’s bedroom door in his mansion, after kidnapping her, commanding her to come downstairs to eat dinner with him.
He slams his fist on the door, *WHAM! WHAM! WHAM* “Hurry up and come down to dinner!” Lumière, the French candle-stick, tries to help him woo Belle, “Master, I could be wrong, but that may not be the best way to win the girl’s affections.”
However, the Beast isn’t having it! He needs her to love him so that the curse can be broken, and he can return to being a normal man. He slams his fist on the door again, and yells at her, only in a fake, softer voice, “WOULD YOU PLEASE JOIN ME FOR DINNER?”
Belle, petrified, says, “I’m not hungry,” from the other side of the door.
“FINE! THEN GO AHEAD AND STAAAAAAAARVE!!!!!!” the beast screams, and storms off.
Do you remember that scene from this classic cartoon movie? Sometimes I want to say that very same thing to Grace when she doesn’t want to eat what Jennifer has cooked for dinner.
But the Beast so desperately wants the girl to love him, he tries to force her to. We see the results of how that works out–it doesn’t.
Love cannot be forced. If love could be forced, then it wouldn’t be called love–it would be called duty. Duty is not love, and love is not duty.
There is no other way. Jesus knew this, that’s why he put all of the rules and regulations aside, and instead, He focused on teaching the root of a good, abundant life…love. Love for God, love for others, and love for yourself. We must have all three!
If we can begin to position love in the proper place in our hearts, by making it the very bedrock of our lives, then everything else falls right into place! Paul said no matter what he does for God or for people, without love, none of it means anything (see 1 Corinthians 13). When we choose to love, God’s will is being done on earth as it is in heaven.
In Matthew 22, one of the religious people, a Pharisee, a person who didn’t care about love but still knew every rule and law of Old Testament Scripture, he tried to trip up Jesus with a trick-question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?” (Matthew 22:36). Jesus replied with the best answer ever:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).
THAT’S IT! That’s how you do what Jesus did, and still does! This is how you allow Him to live through you!
- Love God with all of your heart, soul, and mind.
- Love your neighbor as yourself.
And as you can see, if you love yourself as God loves you–which is a lot–only then can you truly fulfill the second command, which is to love your neighbor as yourself! You can’t hate yourself, and love your neighbor! It’s impossible! You must understand your value! And your “neighbor” is everyone–not just your next-door neighbor. YOU GOTTA LOVE YOURSELF AND SEE YOURSELF AS VALUABLE! BECAUSE YOU ARE! Not in an arrogant way, but in a way that is important. You ARE important!!!
So after Jesus was asked, what’s the “best law” of God, He then does something which made this arrogant, stiff, know-it-all religious person want to pull out his hair! HE SUMMED UP THE ENTIRE OLD TESTAMENT–IN ONE WORD!
It was LOVE that compelled God to CREATE US! (Ephesians 1:4). It was LOVE that compelled Jesus to come to earth! (John 3:16). And even more than that, God doesn’t just love us, but LOVE IS WHAT HE IS! (1 John 4:8).
…And He lives in you, in full, if you believe in Jesus as your Savior. So you have this same ability on the inside, which will sprout up and out…on the outside…the more you allow Christ to live through you each day. As you get to know Him more and more through His Word and Spirit, your mind will become renewed, and then you will exude love easily and organically.
So today, my friends, do this–and please do it authentically and genuinely: Love. Choose to love. Make a decision, right now, to love God, love others, and love yourself. After all, Jesus loved you so much, He made a way for you to become spiritually perfect in our Heavenly Father’s eyes–at the Cross. Place your faith in His blood which was shed for your sins–yours–and enjoy that love! And after that, begin to give this love away to everyone, absolutely everyone! Not just to those who love you, but even to those who don’t! Do this, and you’ll be just like Jesus! Who is confident, hopeful, and always loving!
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, today I want to thank you for your everlasting love for me. Through Christ, you made a way for me to be spotless, and I’m forever grateful. Thank you for teaching me how to love others, like you love me. Help me to do this in even greater ways. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For those who don’t understand your love, please teach them. Begin to send new people into their lives who will help them with this. Begin to teach them that love is not just a feeling, but something we practice all day long. Teach them Jesus’ type of love, which is unconditional; but also, because we are so valuable to you, teach us how to refuse to allow others to abuse us. Teach us how to set healthy boundaries, and enforce those boundaries with love–like you do for us. I ask that you instill a brand new life of love, in each and every person who wants it today! In Christ’s loving name, amen!
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