Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: Deuteronomy 6:4-6
When Jesus was asked the question, “What is the greatest commandment in the law?”, he responded with a quote from Deuteronomy- “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Jesus responded with this very familiar quote from the book of Deuteronomy- a quote which every Jewish person could immediately understand, and indeed, quote from memory. This is part of the “Shema”,Hebrew for “I hear”, a memorized saying that was dear to the Jewish heart and mind.
Jesus had said that he did not come to do away with the Law, but rather to complete it. The Law of love is one that is a commandment, not a feeling. Do you note that the commandment starts with “Love the Lord”. It is a direct command to love God, not to have some emotional response.
Similarly, when we decide to marry our spouse, we commit to loving them. We make a decision to love them, “in good times and bad”, etc. We make a decision to love.
I noted this with some clients the other day who have been struggling with marriage problems. I pointed out to them that they had decided, at one point, to love one another, not to ride the roller coaster of emotions that some couples seem to equate with marital love. The clients agreed that, despite their troubles, they had decided to love one another, and had committed to that the day that they were married. Indeed, maybe that is what has sustained them.
My point is simply this. We are human, and we will disappoint our partner with our actions, attitudes and behaviors at times. This will happen because we are human. We make a decision to love our spouse, even when it is hard to do. After all, we are not always loveable, and we need love the most when we are the least loveable. (If I were a preacher, I might say, “Can I get an Amen?”)
Don’t worry, I am not a preacher, but I do try to speak truth to my clients. Love in hard times is just that- hard. We do it because we have committed to do it, not necessarily because we feel it at that moment. So, “Love one another”, even when it doesn’t “feel” right.
It is right.
Prayer: Lord, help us to love one another, even when it is hard to do, Amen