Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” But after that no one dared question Him. (Mark 12:28-34)
A Personal Relationship With The Father
In a world of packaged products we look for a simple way to help us understand greater truths. We bullet things to make them easier to follow. Simplicity is a tool of marketing to present ‘CliffsNotes’ of an idea so that we can grab a quick thought and understand the greater meaning. Jesus incorporated this style of teaching on many occasions. Like the scribe in our story we want to ask a single question that will sum up what our life is all about. His question was simple: “What is it all about?” He knew there were numerous commands given by God but he (like us) asked Jesus to give him a single idea that would declare the whole truth. He was not disappointed.
The first thing man must do is to HEAR. Everything begins with the hearing. Man has always failed in his efforts to please God when he fails to hear what the Lord says. There is only ONE Lord and He and only “HE” must be heeded. Listening to men will not bring him to know the will of God. To have a relationship with the Father begins with an attentive ear.
Second, love must come from the heart. To have a relationship with the Father there must be a heart filled with a love that is willing to listen, submit and obey. Every fiber of our being must be in love with God. Our heart, our soul, our mind and every strand of our strength must be immersed in a constant love of the Father. So full is our love we think about the Father every day, we talk about our Father every day, we listen to the words of the Father every day – a day does not go by that we are not in communion with the Father. Love has that power. When we fall in love with a person we think of them often longing to be with them. To have a personal relationship with God is a daily experience of love. We talk to Him through prayer as we listen to His words from the Bible. He is our love. We want to know everything about Him because we love Him so.
Third, our love for the Father finds itself fulfilled as we show that love to others. Love has a vertical and horizontal relationship. Our love for the Father (vertical) can only be understood when we show love to our neighbor (horizontal). One is dependent on the other. We cannot love God if we do not love our neighbor. In other words the Father tells us if we cannot love His children we cannot love Him. Love is not just an idea it is an action. Loving our neighbor is an active part of our life because we love the Father so much. Love manifests itself through the care we give to others. Love is fulfilled in our love for others.
The scribe made one final observation. A relationship with the Father is not about how many animals we can sacrifice on the altar. Salvation comes from a heart that loves the Lord with every part of our being so that we can offer true sacrifices of obedience. Serving Christ with little or no devotion is not worth much. Giving meager lives of loveless crumbs will not give satisfaction to our lives. God wants all of our life. He gave us all of our life and He wants us to give it all back to Him. That is how we have a personal relationship with Him.
God is on the lookout for candidates with hearts perfect toward Him. He is not a talent scout looking for somebody strong enough or good enough. He is looking for someone with a heart set on pleasing Him and an eye single to His glory. He will do the rest. (Vance Havner, 1901-1986)