The Right Order of Love
"Jesus replied: '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.'" Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)
"I just want a boy to like me," she said with a sigh.
My heart understands her desire. As I sat around my kitchen table with my small group of high school girls, I realized again how some things never change.
We all want to be wanted. Whether you're a girl wanting a date with the guy in math class or a woman hoping for an invitation to lunch with a friend, each one of us wants to be wanted. To know we matter. To be chosen.
Wanting to be wanted is a good thing. It doesn't mean we're incredibly needy. It means we're normal. In fact, God created us with this desire. Here are two reasons:
1) So we would want a relationship with Him.
God created us for the sake of love. He has so much love to share and He wants a relationship with us. He chose us; now we choose Him.
2) So we would want relationships with others.
God also created us with the desire to share our lives with others, for friendships and family too.
Things get tricky and difficult when we reverse the order of these desires, which we easily do.
Whether we want to be loved by a boyfriend, a friend or a husband, when we go looking to "the one" to meet our needs before we fall in love with The One, we can get ourselves in a world of trouble.
Today's key verse from Matthew confirms the importance of this order. In this passage, an expert in the law asked Jesus the most important commandment. Jesus answered: "'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'" (Matthew 22:37-39).
Jesus is clear on the order. The first command is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind. Then we are to love others.
God didn't intend for people to fill our hearts with love. In fact, they couldn't even if they tried! We aren't equipped to do a job that big, as God never wants another to take His proper place.
When we love God with all we have first, our love expands, multiplies even, and we have more love to give to others. And that love is healthy because our hearts' needs are met by Him first.
However, when we reverse God's order and seek the love of others before God, our love source and its purity diminishes. Then love can become self-focused and unhealthy because our own God-designed needs aren't met.
God created a love gap in us only He can fill. When we try to love others out of our human love, we can run out of love. We begin looking to others instead of overflowing on others.
God's order is best. Get filled by Him first. Spill over to others after that.
By Lynn Cowell