Jesus gives him two answers. Straight from Deuteronomy.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
And without a pause he continued…
The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’
Now hit the pause button. Did you see that last statement?
Most Christians would know by heart the phrase ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart… but that second part can get easily missed when we read through it.
Here Jesus tells us that the order we love is this;
While this appears to be somewhat righteous, I believe it has led to more damage in peoples lives as they burn out, mess up, become disenchanted with faith or following God.
God is His infinite wisdom gave these commandments to the Israelites in a specific order.
Loving God is not meant to be a chore. Neither is loving our neighbour. But it can happen when we continue to output out of ourselves without being filled ourselves. We think we are doing the ‘right thing’ when in fact we are enslaving ourselves to wrong thinking. Resentment can and does creep in.
Yes, there are time when God calls us into periods of suffering, but even Paul who lets be fair wrote most of the books on suffering said that God’s word to Paul (and us) is ‘My Grace is sufficient for you’ (2 Cor 12:9).
When we take the time to get this order right, Loving God, then loving ourselves, then we will have to give out of overflowing love more to give to our neighbours, not our scrappy seconds.
So, what do I mean by loving ourselves? Let us look at how we would treat a neighbour. We would want to speak to them with dignity and honour. Do we talk to ourselves like that? We would want that neighbour to know we appreciate them. Do we appreciate ourselves?
Ask yourself this question. What do you do that fills you? What do you like doing that bring you joy and puts something into your tank?
Too often we can fall into the trap of thinking it is all sacrifice and output for those we love. We forget or maybe we have not been told that to love abundantly we must come from a place where we have something to give. The way we best love is when we are loving God, looking to Him for our needs, then we are looking after ourselves mentally and emotionally followed by an overflowing of love to those around us.