New Year Priority #1 – Love

One of the greatest failures of God’s people is in the area of priorities. You see priorities determine our actions. We may not totally state our priorities in life, but our actions show us what they are. I would like to take the next 4 weeks and look at some of the things that are a MUST in the lives of born again followers of Jesus. This series is simply titled: “Priorities For The New Year”

In this series we will see that:
1. Love Must Be A Priority
2. Worship Must Be A Priority
3. Evangelism Must Be A Priority
4. Service Must Be A Priority

Love can do amazing things and our Bible is totally clear that love is just as essential as air in the life of a follower of Jesus. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Notice that without love you are just as noisy as the world, you are the same as nothing and you gain nothing. When Jesus was asked what was the most important commandment, you know His reply found in Mark 12:28-31: The scribe asked “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Jesus demands that we must love God above everything else in this world. This is to be the cornerstone of our life. Are we like the Jews of that time who quoted this every day in their prayers yet Jesus saw into their heart that by their actions, this was actually untrue? Is God occupying the first place in our lives, ahead of every other love or allegiance! Most Christians today will proclaim that God is first and then they place other things and people in front of him. Notice areas in which we are to love the Lord supremely:

A. All Of Our Heart
Jesus is saying is that we must love the Lord without pretense. Our love for Christ must be authentic. This is a love that goes beyond words and is seen in our actions! What if you told your spouse that you loved them and then ignored them, never spent time with them and didn’t seek to grow closer to them? When we truly love God and put Him first, it will be SEEN IN EVERYTHING WE DO!

B. All Of Our Soul
Here Jesus is referring to our emotions. We are not to love God in a nonchalant manner, but we are to be emotional in our love for Him. Our love for God should touch us at our most intimate levels. We are to love the Lord with all our emotional self. Our thoughts MUST center upon CHRIST.

C. All Of Our Mind
Our love for God is not a mindless love! We are to love the Lord because we have considered Him, & meditated on Him and His greatness, we must make a conscious choice to love the Lord. We shouldn’t love God because we were taught to or even because it is the right thing to do, but because of who He is and what He has done for us. Our thoughts should center on Christ!

D. All Of Our Strength
This refers to the fact that this love is not only in words but in actions of our physical body. We must love the Lord with every ounce of our being and He will have prominence in every area of our life! Do you love His people, His Word, His House, His Work, His world, His commandments, & His worship as you should?

The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. These two commandments are intertwined you cannot have one without the other. You shall love your neighbor as yourself is a very simple statement. Jesus says that we are to love others in the same way that we love ourselves. We are to place others in such a position that we are constantly looking out for their best interests.

Philippians 2:3-5: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” Does this describe you?

Can we go ahead and admit that we love ourselves? We go to great lengths to provide ourselves with the things that we need. We eat so that we don’t starve, drink so that we do not die of thirst, go to the doctor when things are wrong with us, we make sure that we are taken care of. There is nothing wrong with loving ourselves but we must love our neighbor in the same ways. We must seek to help and care for them as well.

This love manifests itself when we exhibit Forgiveness, peace, unity, compassion to others. John understood this in 1 John 4:20: “Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.”

It doesn’t get any clearer than that! If you say that you are a Christian and have hate in your heart, you are a LIAR! According to this verse it is impossible to do both! The love described here refers to a never-ending, unchanging, all-consuming love for someone. This agape love is forever! It is a love that loves without regard for the worth of the object being loved. This is more than simple affection or some emotional feeling. It is a decision of the will!

Jesus made a decision of His will when He died on the cross for you. Want proof? Romans 5:8: “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”
If you do not love as Jesus loved, frankly you are not His disciple, not His follower, you are fooling yourself but you can not fool God. If you love Jesus, you will love others and if you love others you will invite them to get to know Jesus.

If we love the Lord as we should, we will not sin against Him. If we love our neighbor as we should, we will not offend them. When we love in the manner Jesus described and exemplified, then we will treat everyone how they should be treated. It is natural to love those who love us, but it is supernatural to love those hate us. Jesus is telling us is that we can always be assured that we will do the right thing by God and by our fellow man if we will love the Lord supremely.

So how is your love? Do you love God with all that is in you? Do you love your neighbor as yourself? If not then you have a lot to think about.

Jesus said “If you love me, keep my commandments” Is your love for Christ seen in how you treat your neighbor? The Great Commandment sums up the 10 Commandments. Let’s look at the “top 10” for a moment.

If we “Love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength: –

We will not have any other Gods
We will not create any idols

Examine your heart concerning these first 2. Does your life display other Gods or idols? Where does your work, your hobbies, your TV, your sports, your self meaning your outward appearance / vanity, your closet, your house, your car….all things of this “world” fit in?

We will not take His name in vain
We will remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy
This one has become abused. How many of us take 24 hours to get close to God, to explore the scripture, to pray, to focus on Jesus, to become refreshed. This is a commandment, not an option.
We will honor our Father & Mother

Likewise, if we “Love our neighbor as ourselves” we:
We will not murder them
“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.
Paul lumped gossip and slander right in with this.

We will not commit adultery with their spouse
But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Matt 5:28 (NRSV)
We will not steal from them

We will not lie against them or covet what they have

How is your love today? If you seek to live a life that pleases God this New Year… LOVE MUST BE A PRIORITY… For without love, nothing else will matter!

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