“Thou shalt love the
Lord thy God”
God commands us
to love him. And so we must, for this command does not issue from any lack
or insufficiency on God’s part. He does not need our love. This command
proceeds instead from God’s very being. He is active Love, as we are
constantly reminded in the recurring refrain of the Trinity season: “God
is love and he that abideth in love abideth in God and God in him”. God
commands us to love him for our sake, for the perfecting of his divine image
The whole duty
of the Christian appears in this command to love. “For when the love of
God precedes, the love of neighbour follows” (Augustine). Love of God
and love of neighbour sum up the whole of the Old Law and, in Christ they
become both the fulfillment of the Law and the very heartbeat of Christian
life. God’s life in Christ “shall confirm you [keep you steadfast] unto
the end”, say St. Paul. That divine life is the “grace to withstand
the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil” and the reason
for “pure hearts and minds to follow thee the only God”.
God commands us
to love him. It is a matter of awe and wonder, a display of divine
largesse, a showing forth of the super-abundant goodness of God. For,
consider how wonderful enough it would be, if God even permitted us to love
him. Perhaps, some few brave souls might take the opportunity of his
permission. Even God’s permission would be some sign of his love, some
small gesture of motion towards us, a token of toleration. Consider how
more wonderful if God should not only permit us, but should invite us to
love him. Surely, there would be a greater number who would respond to his
invitation, “Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden”, though, of
course, there are always our endless excuses.
commands us to love him. Consider how much more wonderful a thing, beyond
divine permission and holy invitation is God’s commandment. His command is
the motion of his active love towards us. To respond in faithfulness is to
let that active love move in us. He commands us to love him because our
true end, our good, lies in union with him.
puts it best:
commands us to love him, because he will have us all to do so. He will
not be deprived of any man’s love. Nor will he be deprived of any part
of our love, for he commands us not merely to love him, but to love him
with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. The love of God holds out
two hands to catch and take us: one is the commandment that we should
love, the other is the act of his own love in the sacrifice of Jesus.
He does not mean that we should escape him; see, he has taken us between
his two hands.
commandment is but the one hand of God’s love towards us. The other hand is
Christ’s sacrifice. “For God so loved the world that he gave his
only-begotten Son”. The twofold love of God in commandment and in
fulfillment moves in us as the active principle of our love for God and for
our neighbour. The two are intimately related. God’s love is the basis for
our love. Divine love begets human love.
For it is
from one and the same love that we love God and our neighbour; God, however,
for his own sake, ourselves and our neighbours for God’s sake.
does it mean to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength?
St. John Chrysostom tells us.
God with thy whole heart means the heart is not inclined to the love of
any one thing more than it is to the love of God... which we cannot do
unless we withdraw our hearts from the love of worldly things. To love
God with thy whole mind means that all the faculties are at the
disposition of God: he whose understanding serves God, whose wisdom
concerns God, whose thought dwells on the things of God, whose memory is
mindful only of his blessings, loves God with his whole mind. To love
God with thy whole soul means to keep the soul steadfast in truth and to
be firm in faith.
To love God
“with all thy strength” is to love God in everything that we do with all
that lies in our power to do.
God calls us
into communion with himself. With the one hand, he commands us to love him
and all things as in him, and with the other hand he unites us to himself
through the sacrifice of Christ. “See, he has taken us between his two
love the Lord thy God”