Learning to Love

Learning to Love

Over the past several posts I have been discussing with you some of the various aspects of “balance” and how it affects almost every aspect of our lives: financial, physical, emotional, health, and what we may call “spiritual.”

You may recall that in the last post I raised the question,“ Is a Balanced Life Possible?” I indicated my belief that there has only been ONE perfectly balanced life, that of Jesus Christ. He is the only one who has ever fulfilled the requirements of God’s Law as summarized in his words in Matthew 22:37-39, “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 foremost commandment. And the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Frankly, I don’t believe a fallible, fallen, mistake-inclined human being like me can do what the Law requires of us in order to be saved.

So, what’s the point of the law? God never intended  “obedience” to the  Law to put us in a saving relationship with Him. If that were the case, no one could be saved because we can’t keep the Law perfectly. As Paul tells us In Romans 7, the Law is to tutor us, to teach us about God and His righteous demands but leaves us with the lesson that we are sinful and in need of a Savior. Jesus has fulfilled the Law and taken the penalty for our failure to do so on the cross.

If we can’t do all the Law requires, how are we to relate to it? What are we to do with it or about it?

First, we can allow it to humble us by acknowledging we are fault-ridden and sinful by nature. We are indeed the children of Adam and Eve. Their sin is our sin, we are like them. We disobey God and are completely lost apart from God’s grace and mercy.

Second, we can treat the Law as God’s standard for our loving and attempt to live within the boundaries of our loving Father. Just as loving parents set rules and boundaries for their children, so God has done for us. God knows we are not perfect and will not achieve that ideal state in this lifetime but he wants us to gratefully accept his rules as what is best for us.

Third, our Father wants us to willingly live under his rule and authority. He desires that we get to know and love him above all else. Our attempt to live in faithful obedience because of our love for him indicates we trust him and want a deep personal relationship with him. Jesus shows us how to do this.

Fourth, we must LEARN HOW TO LOVE GOD, OUR SELF, and OTHERS. Love is the essence of who God is and the ultimate purpose and meaning of life. That is what Jesus is saying in Matthew 22: 37-39. So, to live with the balance and purpose God intends for us, we need to commit to that purpose and learn how to go about loving God, our self and others.

Love flows from a commitment of heart to always try to do what is in the best long-term good for another. Love is more than a feeling; it is a choice, a commitment of will to seek the best for the other person. This is the kind of “love” that makes good parents. This is the “love” of long and functional marriages. This is the “love” that provides leaders who care more about their constituents than their fame and political careers.

This is the “love” Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 13. This is the “love” that brought us our Savior, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

This kind of love does not come naturally, it must be learned. Even the most caring mother must learn how to best love her child. I believe the best parents, husbands, wives, lovers of God, self, and others become true “lovers” as we focus on the other and commit to learning how to love them well.

Anyone with a good marriage will admit that there is work involved. Learning to love involves commitment, communication, dealing with conflict, and sacrifice. The same is true with parenting, friendships, and other relationships. Solid relationships take time and effort. So it is with loving God, self, and others.

In the next blog post, we will take another step into learning how to love God.


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