Scriptural tests for God’s love

By Doug Cox, Cross Talk
Posted 5/15/24

In Matthew 22:36-40, you find a lawyer testing Jesus. He asks Him the question “… which is the great commandment in the law?” I’m betting the lawyer was surprised to be given …

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Scriptural tests for God’s love


In Matthew 22:36-40, you find a lawyer testing Jesus. He asks Him the question “… which is the great commandment in the law?” I’m betting the lawyer was surprised to be given a three-pronged answer. First Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, this is the first and great commandment.”

Next came a second quote from Leviticus 19:18. “… You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Thirdly and to make it totally clear and to emphasize the importance of loving God and your neighbor He said, “on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” No mistake about it, Jesus says we are to love God completely and our neighbor selflessly.

As I think about that, I realize this is a very high standard and I don’t think I’ve lived a full day where I haven’t fallen short in some way. At times I put self before God and others, or let unforgiveness or carnal thoughts stay too long and shape my opinions and actions. Oh, and what about “knowing to do good but not doing it?” James 4:17 says that’s sin too. So, if I’m honest with myself, I daily fall short of Jesus’ two greatest commands concerning love.

So, does that mean I don’t love God? Certainly the devil wants you and me to believe that. He wants us to focus on our failures and see ourselves as a lost cause. On the other hand, God simply wants us to admit our failures and then call on Him for help. Romans 3:23 says “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Thankfully that’s not the whole story because even though Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death” the verse continues saying, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Thankfully, with that gift comes his love.

In Romans 5:1, the apostle Paul says “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” and verse 5 says “… the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Notice these verses tell us that not only is eternal life given as a gift to those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, they also get the gift of His love poured into their hearts.

So how can you gauge the depth of your love for God and others? One way is to check your feelings. How do you feel when you hurt someone you love? True love feels bad and then takes steps to make amends. Because Christianity is about having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we should respond similarly when we hurt and grieve God.

Another thing is to evaluate what we are willing to allow into our lives. The Apostle John says “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world.” (1 John 2:15-16) Simply put, love closes the door to worldly vices and habits.

Finally, in Luke 14:26, Jesus warns against putting others — including mother, father and children — before God. He says that because when God is first these relationships have a better chance to thrive.