In our ‘What is Worship’ series, we explore essential truths that lead us to discover true worship of the Creator.
Is it possible to define love? If you were to ask a discussion group to take turns in defining ‘love’ undoubtedly an array of interesting responses could be provided. Since in our language love is used in so many ways and in a vast range of contexts surely a more meaningful question would be, what is the greatest or purest form of love?
The Bible has much to say about love and what love is. ‘He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4:8). The verse above reminds us that God is love and that someone who does not love does not know God. This of course brings out the vital relational aspect of love and considering the needs of others.
But how do we know that God is love? “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends (John 15:13).” So love is giving and sacrificial and love is a verb. The love described in the verse above encapsulates what Jesus the Messiah did by giving Himself as a sacrifice on the cross to atone for sin and to reconcile us to God. Our sin separated us from God and the debt of our sin had to be paid since God is righteous and holy. If we turn to Him, repent of our sins, trust in Him, and follow Him we can have peace with God and have an assurance of our sins forgiven and the promise of eternal life with Him. If we do not believe in Him, then we stand condemned already for refusing to believe in the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18).
Jesus the Messiah performed the greatest act of love ever and through His life and the Bible has revealed to us how we can be loving. Yeshua said “If you love Me, keep My Commandments (John 14:15)” and “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him (John 14:21).”
We know therefore that if we love God, we will obey Him and keep His commandments but how do we know which commandments to keep? Though there are many commandments, Jesus the Messiah explained that the whole Law and the Prophets are hung on the principle of the greatest and the second commandment. The greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind and the second is to love our neighbour as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:34:40).
Loving God summarises the first four of the Ten Commandments contained in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 and loving our neighbour is an outworking of the following six. But notice the order given. We are to love God first and foremost, others next and then ourselves. We frequently read about God’s character and compassion and in essence to become more loving is to become more like Jesus the Messiah in our character and actions and to do what He says.