There are lots of things that God wants. A believer should be what God wants him to be, do what God wants him to do, say what God wants him to say, sense what God wants him to sense, and share what God wants him to share. Spiritual maturity, doing what God wants, involves every aspect of life. But all of those issues are summed up for us in the greatest commandment. You do not need me to quote it to you, you know it well. It is simply to love God with all that we are and have and to love our neighbors as ourselves. The next passage said that in essence all the other instructions, directions, laws, and teachings of the bible are subject to this one great command to love.

Love as expressed at the horizontal level, love for each other, is a favorite topic of Jesus. He repeated it often. In John 13:34, as he was preparing to leave his followers, he said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Love for one another is also a favorite subject of the Apostle Paul. He recognized and clearly asserted that the teaching about loving one another is not a man made directive. He writes to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 4:9) “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.” Peter also teaches us this truth. He writes (1 Peter 1:22) “love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” The Apostle John says it also. In his 2 letter, verse 5, he writes, “And now I ask you…not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.”

But it all begins with God’s love. He first expressed his great love for us on the cross of Calvary. When we come to grips with how much God loves us and how much we truly matter to him, we then can fulfill the first part of the greatest commandment to love him with all that we have. We must receive God’s love in order to be able to return God’s love. Another term for that is called “worship.” It’s interesting to me that we can perform all kinds of good deeps and yet still fall short. Jesus spoke of those who called him Lord, but he never knew them. Paul tells Timothy referring to the religious opposition that “some of these people have missed the most important thing in life – they don’t know God.” (1 Timothy 6:21) Knowing God is to love God. Hosea puts those two ideas in perspective in Hosea 6:6. As God’s prophet, he speaks for God and says, “I don’t want your sacrifices – I want your love; I don’t want your offerings – I want you to know me.”

“Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he …knows me, that I am the LORD…” Jeremiah 9:23