The Loving Heart
To speak of God, His Word, and the life He invites us to fulfill would be incomplete without the shear mention of the word love. Love is the heart of the gospel, and a loving heart is what the Lord wants of us more than anything else. His love toward us is almost indescribable and yet the Scriptures remind us that it’s unfailing, unconditional, and everlasting. It’s wrapped up in the personhood of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And, His love is made manifest in His creation, among His people, and through His life-changing transformation from darkness into light.
The most declarative statement of God’s desire for us to have a loving heart is found in the Great Commandments…to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Deut. 6; Matt. 22). Upon these two commandments hang all other imperatives to love and serve in Jesus’ name. To miss this focus is to miss the very heart of God. And, to ignore this directive is to walk in disobedience. “Listen!” says the Lord…to the Beloved Son, Jesus, recalled both at His baptism and at the transfiguration (Matt. 3 and 17). The message of Jesus is summarized in one word: love. That’s the message we are to receive in our hearts and offer generously to others in Jesus’ name.
On the Mount of Beatitudes, we listen in on one of the most loving sermons to come from the voice of Jesus. It’s here where Jesus outlines the ways in which He longs for His disciples to live a life of love and to express a heart of love. In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus gives a picture of the heart of the true people of God, those who are a part of His Kingdom and have the full blessings of the Kingdom. A heart full of love embodies these attributes:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” (Matt. 5: 3-12).
Elsewhere Jesus invites His followers to remain in His love and fulfill the mandate: “Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15: 9-13). Jesus demonstrated this kind of love first and foremost to his closest disciples, but also to those who daily crossed His path. The Apostle Paul reiterates these truths by stating with clarity what a loving heart looks like: it is patient, kind, rejoices with the truth, always trusts, hopes and perseveres. It’s not envious, boastful, proud, rude, self-seeking, easily angered, nor does it delight in evil (1 Cor. 13: 5-8).
None of these passages require much commentary. All are very self-explanatory. Meditate on these few passages and a heart full of love will be revealed and offered to you today. One either has a heart of love based upon and motivated by the love of God, or one has a heart that’s directed selfishly toward interests contrary to God. What is your choice today? Will you receive the love of God into your heart and invite His Spirit to create within you a loving heart toward others? May it be so!