These two parts came days apart from each other, but I think they tie to one another.
I was studying, again, Matthew 22:36-39, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love is a choice. Even to love God is a choice.
I have to be honest; I kind of got “stuck” on what comes first. Love? Obedience? Faith? What is our primary duty or goal in the Christian walk?
To have a relationship with Him requires faith. Ok… So after faith comes…
To love God we need to know Him; we need to spend time with Him through prayer and reading His word.
Long story short, and many verses later, I concluded.
It’s about fellowship!
It’s all about our fellowship with God. That is all it ever was. Adam and Eve walked the garden with God until sin separated them from Him. Sin made it impossible to be in fellowship with Him. Sin drove us further away. But when Christ died on the cross, taking our sins on Himself as a Living Sacrifice, He then provided a way back into fellowship with God. He became the mediator between God and man. Once we believe and accept God’s gift of saving grace and salvation, we again can, through Christ, have a direct relationship with God, our Father. We also receive the Holy Spirit, who guides us, and helps us maintain our fellowship with our Father. His Spirit helps to produce a more Christlike behavior, so we may please and glorify God.
As believers we can easily get hung up on our sins, discouraged by the endless times we fail. Even the same sins over and over again; depressed that we cannot seem to live up to the acceptable “standards” of a godly life.
Firstly, we cannot obtain a perfect, sinless life. We may be a child of God – forgiven – but we are still sinners. We still struggle to not let our fleshly desires prevail. We need the Holy Spirit’s help and strength to even begin to head in the right direction.
Romans 7:18; 8:5-6
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds of the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Secondly, for the believer, God has already forgiven us all of our sins, through the blood of Jesus’ on Calvary! God no longer sees our sins when He looks at us. None of them – not even the ones we have yet to commit!
“For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
He looks at us with grace and forgiveness; He sees us as His children.
We need to stop focusing on what we do wrong and start focusing on what we do right!
Don’t get stuck on your sins! Even though our sins are already forgiven, we still need to ask forgiveness to reconcile our fellowship with our Father. Once that is done, it is forgotten – for us, because God has already forgotten.
I know many times I get so down on myself, especially when my boys see me sin, but realizing that God has already forgiven that sin allows me to be free to move on. It then becomes about what I do to make it right. And for me, how I use those times to connect Biblical truth and lessons into my boys’ minds.
Christ is our foundation and we are called to build on it – to further His kingdom. As believers, when we stand before the judgment seat, we will not be judged for our sins, as they are already forgiven; we will be judged for our faithfulness to Him, and our works. For me, this puts a whole new perspective and appreciation on 1 Corinthians 10:31, So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
God’s blessing and reward in the lives of Christians varies according to their faithfulness to the tasks He entrusts to them. Work that they do in Christlike faith and obedience will survive and be rewarded; work done in the power of the flesh or in disobedience to Scripture will not (ESV notes).
Bringing the two together
Matthew 22:36-39, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
If the greatest commandment is to love God with our whole heart, soul and mind, everything else will fall into place. Loving the Lord requires that we know Him. Knowing Him involves fellowship (communion, companionship). With the Holy Spirit’s help us to maintain the fellowship He so desires from us, and our works will be fruitful and sincere. We will love others as ourselves, as is the second greatest commandment, and our works will be rewarded in heaven.