As we seek to grasp a deeper understanding of Christ’s sacrifice, through our study of the sacrificial system, there will be a word we must be forever mindful of, and that is love. We see it in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” That love, in turn, drives us, as well, to love the church, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1st John 4:11). So empowering is God centered love, that He can ask His followers to “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:43-44). Love is to be the driving force behind everything we do.
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all
your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The greatest of all the commands is to love God with a consuming love. Do you ever wonder what love truly is? In our world today, love is watered down to be a mere feeling that changes with the events of life. As Jesus clearly taught, we are called to a different standard. “Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Difficult Words” words it this way, “Christian love, whether exercised toward the brethren, or toward men generally, is not an impulse from the feelings, it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those whom some affinity is discovered.” This helps us understand why love can be commanded, because love is a choice.
For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all,
then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for
themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
2nd Corinthians 5:14-15
Love is not merely a choice that we make, it can also be a force at work within us. Paul talks of how they were compelled by Christ’s love to serve both God and mankind. The word “compels” means to urge, impel. The ETRV uses the word controls. When one is convicted of God’s love expressed through the giving of His Son, that understanding will direct that person to “live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” So, when Jesus says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15), He is placing things in the order they should be; that is, love is the first and greatest commandment. It is the most important choice one can make.