Who you love most determines how you love who else you love!
Nichole and I taught at a marriage retreat a couple of years ago and recently we had the opportunity to teach the same thing again to a young married LifeGroup.
The premise of the whole teaching reminded me of a principle in life that we, as believers, must remember and strive to live by. This premise was simple but not easy…
When you are pursuing the one you will marry, or when you actually do marry that person, you are NOT marrying your #1. Your spouse should always be your #2 because God should always be your #1. In other words, the real pursuit should begin with your relationship with God. God has to be your #1.
Since that teaching the other night, I have been thinking about this principle and it began to fester a bit. We taught this as a response to Jesus’ answer to the question that the Pharisees posed to Him to “test” him. You all know the scripture and Jesus is actually quoting an Old Testament scripture from Deuteronomy.
Matthew 22:36-39 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
God must be our #1. We should love him with all of our heart, soul, and mind. The first two commandments of the Old Law spoke to this as well. Remember those? “Don’t have any other gods BEFORE me” and “Don’t make an idol for yourself.” So this is clear in our marriages, relationships and lives – GOD IS NUMBER 1. Period. If God is your number 1 (the teaching goes) then your spouse is your number 2. That makes sense. But it is the flip side of that phrase that has been bugging me.
If God IS NOT your number 1, then I guess you could make your spouse 1 or something else. You know, those idols. BUT – not so fast.
In reality, if God is not your number 1 – your “default” number 1 will always be yourself. You are your own idol.
You will be more important than your spouse. You will dominate your other relationships. As a matter of fact the way you view those relationships will be really and truly FOR you and how they affect you.
You see, we are a selfish people. At least I am. Just ask my wife. She knows better than anyone that there have been many times when God was certainly not my 1 because I certainly was my own 1. The old law and Jesus even alluded to this when it is said, “love your neighbor AS YOU LOVE YOURSELVES.”
In other words – you are always going to take care of yourself first and it is somewhat natural to do so. If, then, you love God first and he is your #1 then people can be your #2 and you will take care of them and treat them like you treat yourself.
If you are like me, though, I have a tough time keeping that in order. I often fall back to me being #1 which messes up not only my relationship with God, but it directly affects my relationship with others.
How I love God is directly related to how I will love others. I like to call it the “right angle” of Christianity.
If our vertical love for God is right, then our horizontal love for people will be right. This forms a 90 degree angle and the completer in that is a geometric term called the “hypotenuse.” Some of you who were good in geometry might remember that as the “longest side of a right triangle.” That is the LOVE that connects. The “hypotenuse of love” if you will.
LOVE GOD. LOVE PEOPLE. These two go together. Anything else points back to self. How do you love? Who is your #1? Do you need to get back to some basic geometry in the way you love?