THE GREATEST COMMAND
I thought it timely to remind you of two great truths. We need reminding of them because we so often, readily, and easily, forget them. Worse still, we tend to disorder them. I will commence by looking at the lesser of the two great truths which has to do with sparrows. I hazard a guess that you haven’t thought much about sparrows yet today – but my writing to you is not intended to shame you about this neglect. Rather, it is meant to prod you to be wonderful about why Christ would draw our attention to these incredible birds.
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Jesus said that in His day, two sparrows could be purchased for ‘a penny’ (Matt. 10:29). These seemingly common and very cheap birds were considered to be of very little worth – yet, He goes on to say, And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your (Heavenly) Father (knowing about it). This is how much God cares and sees. But, and it’s a significant but, “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:30).
Whenever you feel insignificant, unnoticed, uncared for, consider what Christ has just taught us about our Heavenly Father: He knows you; He notices you; He cares for you; He knows what you need!
This is the second great truth I felt that I need to remind you of now. Ponder this truth well. Let it fill you with wonder so that you become wonderful about your Heavenly Father. This pondering may sound like, as many people have twisted it to be so, that this is about how great you must be. But it isn’t. It is about how great our Heavenly Father is. It is about how loving, caring, generous, and protective Heavenly Father is!
¶ See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.
First John 3:1
THE GREATEST COMMAND
When Jesus was challenged by the religious elites of His day, He was asked by a religious lawyer, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” (Matt. 22:36)
And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”
The very thing we need – the very thing we want most; Christ said was the greatest commandment: love! Deprive a person of love and it will cripple them. Deny someone the opportunity to love and it will ruin them. Convince someone that love is determined by their feelings – or even more wicked still – convince them that they cannot choose or control these feelings, and it will seduce them into a trap so deep and so dark that the result can ever be the kind of confusion and disappointment that makes experiencing real love near impossible!
Loving God is so important that He has designed for us to experience facsimiles of it from the moment we are born. When our mothers embraced us to their breasts in those first few moments of touch when air had just rushed into our lungs, we were experiencing love. When they whispered to us in our first seconds of embrace what to everyone else was like mere sounds) we understood perfectly and knew we were loved. When our fathers picked us up and wrapped us in a blanket and cuddled us, we felt his protective strength and knew that we were loved. These experiences of love are designed by Father God to be a sample of, and to introduce us to, His love. It should be the most natural thing in the world then for us to love Him in return, except for the introduction of sin into the hearts of every member of the human race. This is why we need to learn how to love – and especially so when it comes to obeying the greatest command.
HOW WE LOVE WHEN COMMANDED
Love makes the command to love our delight! Because I love my wife, if she commanded me to love her, I would be delighted to do so. When we have a heart to love God, His command to love Him is our delight! The loving relationships we enjoy, or at least observe, here on earth, are the training ground for loving God. I know how my wife would feel if I never spoke to her. Because I love her, I speak with her warmly and politely. To love God similarly involves sharing our hearts with Him in prayer. Because I love my wife, I make it my priority to come home for dinner each night. Because I love God, I make it my priority to be in His House when it’s dinner time to be seated at the family dining table to feast on His preached and taught Word and be reminded of the power of His body and blood as I participate in the Communion. This is what I feel to remind you of especially at this time in your life that the God who sees sparrows sees you and loves you and gives us our greatest command which as it turns out is our greatest need and delight anyway – to love Him.
We love because he first loved us.
First John 4:19