“He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”(Matthew 22:37-39)
To love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind. And on top of that, to love our neighbors too? How can we be expected to love with all our hearts and then have anything left over for our neighbor? What if we run out of room to love?
I remember as a child being asked in school to complete a worksheet with a giant outline of a heart by filling it in with the things you love. This seemingly fun activity stressed me out. I knew God was supposed to fill most of it. I knew family should fill a big chunk. But how much? What if I made half of the heart for God and then ran out of room for all my family members? What if God had too small a portion? What if I forgot cousins or grandparents or friends? And shouldn’t I give my Mom and Dad a bigger chunk than a friend? Oh the stress of this simple worksheet was agonizing!
This simple task was too difficult to complete because our hearts are not one size. Sure the physical human heart may only grow to a certain size. But our soulful hearts, the ones that express love and emotion; those are not stuck in any one size. There is always room for that heart to grow. And grow it does! When we fill our hearts first and foremost with love for God, our ability to love others grows.
Love comes from God. It is not possible to have love without God, for God is love! (1 Jn 4:8). People will try to say that they feel love without God in their lives, but the truth is that even though some may not realize it, God’s love is still within them. “We love, because He first lived us.” (1 Jn 4:19). It is by the love of our Father that we were created; each human being as a unique individual in the image of God. It is by His love that He sent His Son to show us what it means to truly love one another. And it is by that same love that death has been conquered in the Risen Christ!
To love the Lord with all that we have should be the easiest thing we do. After all, we have Him to thank for every blessing we have. We have Him to thank for our very lives, for our loved ones, for saving us from sin and death! How could we give Him anything but our total and complete selves?
The world wants us to think of our hearts like that worksheet. Static. Small. Only capable of so much. The world tells us that if we love the Lord too much, how will we focus on our jobs? What will we do about money? If we give our whole selves to God, how will our friends, co-workers, family members react? If we are spending so much time with God, what about everything else we need to do in a day? Cleaning, chores, studying, cooking, working, paying bills, buying new things, keeping the yard looking nice. There’s so much to do! So we tell ourselves we are just too busy to give it all to Christ. We have too many other things filing up that heart and God can only fit into a certain section.
But if we allow God’s love to fill us up and if we take the time to return that love to Him, something amazing will happen. Those worksheet lines that try to hold our love in check will break open. The heart doesn’t just grow another size. The boundaries don’t just expand. They become limitless! There is no end to the love that God has for us. When we open ourselves up to the fullness of His love, there is no end to the love we can give!