Love is the Greatest!
|March 9th||March 10th||March 11th||March 12th||March 13th||March 14th||March 15th|
|New Testament||Mark 12 v 28-44||Mark 13 v 1-13||Mark 13 v 14-37||Mark 14 v 1-25||Mark 14 v 26-50||Mark 14 v 51-72||Mark 15 v 1-26|
Recently I was preaching on how our response and attitudes can affect others. In short, I was looking at whether we are choosing the way of love in how we live and act towards others. I want to take some time here to explore this a bit more, especially after what we have read this week.
In Chapter 12 we see Jesus having a chat with a wise teacher all about which of the commandments was the greatest. When faced with that question Jesus responds by focusing on the first and second ones which are all to do with love: love of God and love of others. Jesus makes it very clear that there is no commandment greater than this, and in some ways, it is easy to see why. If we are loving God and loving others then we simply won’t fail to keep all of the other commandments anyway.
This simple truth is just as important to us today as it was to the Jewish people when Jesus was living with them. Yes, we are no longer under the law as they were but we have been empowered to love with God’s love which goes far beyond any commandment and fulfils a much higher level of living.
Love is the greatest.
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul talks about how faith, hope and love remain but the greatest of these is love. Yet again love is described as the greatest. It’s not faith that is the greatest but love. Similarly, it’s not hope that is the greatest but love.
I find it interesting that the commandments were not to believe in God and others but to love. Faith and hope are important but they can and never will take the top place because that is filled by love. Why? Because God is love. It’s His very nature, who He is and what He does. In everything that we do we are to live a life that reaches out to others in love.
In practice this is something that we all have to keep working at, learning to release the love God has put inside of us. Recently I have been thinking about the 5 love languages. The basic idea of this is that we all have a primary way of wanting to be loved, and often this is the main way we express love to others.
The 5 areas are:
Words of affirmation
Acts of Service
As I have been thinking about these, I have noticed that often when someone is hurt or angry with someone else, they show this by using the opposite of the love languages above.
In other words;
Instead of giving gifts we either don’t give anything, give a bad gift or in the worst-case start taking or stealing.
Instead of saying positive and encouraging things, we lash out with hurtful and spiteful words.
Instead of spending time with others, we withdraw or maybe even blank them.
Instead of hugging others, we become reserved, inhibited or maybe even hit out.
Instead of serving, we stop helping out and perhaps demand that others serve us.
This is a very basic look at these. In some ways it can be quite hard hitting as we realise how we are behaving and acting towards others. However, God wants us simply to bring these areas to him, recognise that He has filled us with His love, and make the decision that no longer will we be unloving to God or others. Instead, we will fulfil the greatest commandments, living the God way and loving others because quite simply: Love is the greatest!
How have you shown God’s love to others in a practical way recently?
Deception is really subtle – especially when you just won’t realise you are deceived – How can we protect ourselves from being deceived?
How do you stay on guard and remain alert?
Jesus shared the Passover with his disciples, and instigated the first communion. What does communion mean to you?
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. We all face the same challenge so what’s your top tip for living by the spirit and not giving into your flesh?
Why do you think Jesus remained silent? Do you try to defend yourself when others accuse you (rightly or wrongly)?
What verse stood out for you today?