The Greatest Commandment:
“And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Deuteronomy 6:5
“And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul” Deuteronomy 10:12.
“And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” Deuteronomy 30:6
“But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Joshua 22:5
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Mark 12:20
The Second Great Commandment:
“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18
“Jesus said, ‘Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.'” Matthew 19:18,19
It is paramount to understand what it means to love God and our neighbour. Because I did not understand it, I became completely exhausted in trying to love Him with all I have and am and also to love my neighbour as myself. I became depressed because I tried to love Him with everything, which means 100% of all my heart, soul, strength and mind and then I after I sought to give all to Him I had to also love my neighbour also! That seemed and was impossible! How can I give all I have to God and yet still have some to give to those around me?!? That just exhausted me!
It was a real and true struggle to love, is was truly exhausting, it was a burden. Something was not right though and I prayed for understanding and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Through His law He helped me to understand what it means to love, for His law is that through which He teaches us to love.
The are only two commandments which don’t begin with “Thou shalt not…”. It is the last of the first 4, about loving God; and the first of the last 6, about loving man. Why the difference? Does He want to tell me that loving God is different than loving man? If yes, in what sense?
How do I demonstrate love to my wife? Do I take some flowers from her, or do I give her some flowers? Obviously, I give her. But why give and not take? Every human being understands love only when you give them something: time, gifts, words, deeds, etc. Why is this? Why are the last 6 commandments having to do with giving to man instead of taking? Don’t take life but give, don’t take means but give, don’t take by a lie but give truth, give honour, etc. I came to understand it that it is because we are created beings, and created beings are dependent on the Creator through the needs they were created with. Because I have needs, I need to receive in order to be fulfilled. Then, once filled through the manifestation of love bestowed on me, I can give of what I received to others. Love received and love imparted to those that have needs is the purpose of a human life.
Because of our needs as human beings, we understand love only when we receive something. This is why the last 6 commandments start with the commandment that shows us that to human beings we are to give love (respect, honour), and then it is followed by other 5 commandments which tell us not to take anything from humans, but to give.
But, if I have needs that need fulfilling and I am only to give to human beings then how do I fulfill my need?
This is where the question about what it means to love God comes in. If man has needs, the logical question is if God has needs? Does He need air? Does He need love? Does He need me to pray to Him? Does He need me to sing and praise Him?
To some we would say no and to others yes. So there is a confusion, showing that we don’t know what it means to love God.
He says in Psalms 50:12, “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.” So He doesn’t need air, or water or food for He created it all. “God is love” so He needs not love. Can He survive without our prayers or praise? Would He die if we did not pray or sing? Of course not. So these fulfill only our need of connecting to Him receiving more from Him. In other words, God has absolutely no need. This means that He is Creator. Only the creation has needs. The Creator is the fulfiller of the needs of His creation.
So then what does it mean to love the Creator who has no needs? If to love the creation who has needs is to give, how do I manifest love to the Creator? Well, it is ONLY by taking from Him alone all that I need. From Him I take the air, He alone makes the water to flow, and the food to grow. He alone is the love that I need, the security that I long for, the fulfiller of all that I desire.
So to love God is to take from Him everything and from Him alone. To love man is to give to the creature what I have taken from the Creator.
Then there is no more need for me to be overwhelmend in trying to love God and man, by trying to give to both and thus getting exhausted. I need to take all from God for my needs and also for those around me. This is the law of life mentioned in the Desire of Ages.
Looking unto Jesus we see that it is the glory of our God to give. “I do nothing of Myself,” said Christ; “the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father.” “I seek not Mine own glory,” but the glory of Him that sent Me. John 8:28; 6:57; 8:50; 7:18. In these words is set forth the great principle which is the law of life for the universe. All things Christ received from God, but He took to give. So in the heavenly courts, in His ministry for all created beings: through the beloved Son, the Father’s life flows out to all; through the Son it returns, in praise and joyous service, a tide of love, to the great Source of all. And thus through Christ the circuit of beneficence is complete, representing the character of the great Giver, the law of life. DA 21.2