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‘You must love.’ Matthew 22:37 NLT

When a lawyer asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, He replied that he must love God, before adding others, and himself (see Matthew 22:37–39). Notice that Jesus said, ‘You must love.’ This explains the true nature and behaviour of love. If love can be commanded, then it can’t be only emotional. Genuine love is much more than feelings; it’s a matter of the will. That’s why Jesus could command us to express it. It’s a commandment followed by a commitment. Although feelings are important, true love functions regardless of how you feel.

In his book The Fred Factor Mark Sanborn writes: ‘I learned a long time ago that liking people and loving them are different. Liking someone is an emotional response. Unlike love, “like” is a feeling. The tough part is that we can’t control our emotions. We can control how we choose to express those emotions but not the feelings themselves. A healthy person can choose to be angry and still choose to act lovingly… A feeling is a reaction. Maybe that’s one reason Jesus didn’t say, “Like your enemies.” He knew that liking or not liking someone was not always in our immediate control… I have learned that love is, among other things, an action. I can love someone I don’t necessarily like. I can do something or act towards that person in a certain way because I know it is the right thing to do even if I don’t feel warm and fuzzy doing it.’

And here’s the thing: when you act lovingly towards another person, your emotions begin to line up with your actions. Go ahead, try it and see!

SoulFood: Jer 31–32, Matt 24:26–35, Ps 110, Pro 15:8–9

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright 2024

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