And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength…
Man's life, rightly ordered, revolves, like the earth upon which he dwells, upon an axis with two fixed poles. That axis is love, and the poles are God and man. The love thus defined and exercised fulfils the whole law. It embraces in its scope all of man's duties, religious and moral. Consider —
I. THE NATURE OF THIS LOVE.
1. An affection of the soul.
2. An all-inclusive affection, embracing not only every other affection proper to its object, but all that is proper to be done to its object.
3. The most personal of all affections. One may fear an event, hope for and rejoice in it; but one can love only a person.
4. The tenderest, most unselfish, most divine of all affections. Such is that axial principle, on which man's life, when obedient to God, revolves. It reminds us of that great discovery of the age, which has traced the various powers of nature — light, heat, electricity, etc. — back to one great original force, from which they all spring and into which they are convertible. Like the mythic Proteus, that force changes its form according to the exigency of the time, now appearing as heat, then as light, then as magnetism, then as motion — so this love, which is the fulfilment of the law, is at the basis of all acts of piety and of all forms of virtue (1 Corinthians 13).
II. THE OBJECT OF THIS LOVE.
1. God is the first and supreme object.
2. True love of God begets love to man. The latter, resulting from the former, must needs occupy a subordinate position. The fountain is higher than the stream, and includes it.
III. THE DEGREE IN WHICH THIS LOVE TO GOD SHOULD BE EXERCISED. It should not be a languid affection, but one in which all the powers of man's nature are engaged. The various parts of our complex being are summoned to contribute their utmost force to the formation of it.
1. With the heart: perfectly hearty and sincere.
2. With the soul: ardent — full of warmth and feeling.
3. With the mind: intelligent. God does not want fanatical devotion.
4. With the strength: energetic and intense.In a word, our love to God is to be of the most earnest, real, and vital sort; one into which we are to put the whole of our being, as a plant puts into its flower the united forces of root and leaf and stem.
IV. THIS LOVE IS POSSIBLE ONLY THROUGH CHRIST. He reveals to us the almighty, incomprehensible Creator, who would otherwise be to us a mere abstraction.
V. FALSE AND TRUE MANIFESTATIONS OF THIS LOVE.
1. Take care not to let it become a matter more of outward form than of inward reality.
2. The real proof of love is its willingness to make sacrifices for the sake of its object.
(A. H. Currier.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.