What does it mean to Love Your God With All Your Heart, Soul, Mind & Strength? What does it mean to Love Your Neighbor As Yourself? Matthew 22:36-40 Sermon

Matthew 22:36-40 Sermon

36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"

37Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."

38This is the first and greatest commandment.

39And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."  

Matthew 22 37 39 Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul mind love your neighbor as yourself

Today is Valentine’s Day and also 3rd day of Chinese New Year. Are you in love with someone and celebrating this Valentine’s Day with that person? Is your heart broken as you have just broken up a relationship? Are you single looking to find the Valentine someone in your life? Are you celebrating Chinese New Year with your family & friends? Are you lonely feeling there is no such thing as love? Whichever situation you are in, today’s sermon is for everyone. Is about LOVE.

Valentine’s Day we all know is about Love. Is actually not just about romantic love. Is about God's love and our love for others. Let's look at 1 John 4:7-11 which talks about God's love and Ours.

1 John 4:7-12 (NIV)

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

From this passage, we learn that God is Love (1 John 4:8). He sent His only Son Jesus Christ to die at the Cross for atonement of our sins. We need to remember His love and love God for He 1st love us. God has also told us to love others to display His love for God lives in us. 

Now let's look at how did Valentine's Day come about? How is it got to do with God's love? According to some old legend history is for the remembrance of Saint Valentine a Roman priest who lived during the third century after Christ, Valentine conducted weddings for Christian couples and soldiers against Emperor Claudius II orders to stop performing Christian marriages. He was also said to have help persecuted Christians. Claudius had ruled against Christian teaching as he did not want people to worship anyone other than him. Claudius didn’t want soldiers to be married as he found single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families. Valentine tried to convert Claudius to Christianity. This made him angry, he tried to get Valentine to renounce his faith but failed. He ordered Valentine to be beaten with clubs and stones and executed Valentine on 14 February AD 269.

What can we learn from this legend history about how Valentine’s Day come about? Let's look at today's sermon text on Matthew 22:37-38, Jesus told us that the 1st & greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. What does it mean to Love Your God With All Your Heart, Soul, Mind & Strength?

Is actually Obedience.

If you love God, you will obey God’s Commandments.

You will be loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

An obedient heart, soul, mind and strength will Love your Neighbor as Yourself.

An obedient heart, soul and mind will be Pure & Holy.

An obedient heart, soul and mind will have True Repentance

An obedient heart will Persevere

An obedient heart, soul, mind and strength will be Faithful

An obedient heart, soul and mind will Turn to God for Strength

An obedient heart, soul and mind will Love in all circumstances

An obedient heart, soul and mind will Remember God's Love

Even with persecution, struggles, difficult, trouble situations, Christians will love God with all his/her soul and rely on God’s strength to go through life. An obedient heart will not renounce faith in God even when face with difficult situations. Obedient heart will obey God’s commandment to love our enemies which is found In Matthew 5:44-45 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Obedient heart will obey the 10 commandments. In Matthew 22:40 is actually referring to the 10 commandments also known as the Law which the prophets in Old Testament had kept in their heart, mind, soul and strength. The 10 commandments are found in Exodus 20:1-17.

Exodus 20:1-17 (NIV)

1And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

As Christians today, we still need to obey the 10 commandments. We can’t leave the law behind. In John 14:15 (NIV) Jesus said: If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

The 2nd commandment in Matthew 22:39 Jesus said “Love your neighbor as yourself” is telling us to love others whether they are people who are good to us, people who don’t treat us well, people who need help. If some people may have hurt you, accuse you or left you. Forgive them. There may be people you loved who hurt you or they can be be your enemies. Love them. Forgive them. Pray for them. In 1 Peter 4:8, the Bible tell us “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” In Luke 10:30-37, Jesus explain who is the neighbor citing example of a man who was robbed, stripped of his clothes, beat him and left him half dead. A priest, a Levite passed by the man but ignored him, didn’t help the man. A Samaritan saw him, took pity of him, help him. He put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. He paid all his expenses at the inn. Jesus is telling us to be like the Samaritan man, helping those who need help, be compassionate, be hospitality, be nice, love others.

Valentine loved God with His whole heart and not afraid to sacrifice for His seek in spreading the gospel to people and helping the couples that need help to have wedding. He ministered to Claudius even though Claudius want him dead. He was showing love for his neighbour even though he faced persecution. His neighbours were Claudius & the couples that need help to have wedding.

How about your love for God and others?

All of us have some people in our life that we love. We love our parents, our siblings, our nephews, nieces, relatives, our friends. For those who are married, you love your wife, husband, children, grandchildren. How about God? He is in which position in your heart, soul, mind and strength?

Remember Jesus told us to Love Him with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind as the 1st and greatest commandment.

Being obedient to God, you may have to suffer, go through trials, testing and persecution. I am going through trials and testing. Is not easy. I tell myself I am a Christian. No matter how others see me about my past, judge me, accuse me, leaves me, misunderstand me, I will still be faithful to God to be a Christian. Although I am not perfect, I have sins before I know God forgives me. Jesus has died at the Cross for my sins and I have asked for His forgiveness and repented. One of the sins I have is not completely obedient to His calling for me. Recently last month on Sunday 10 January 2021 when I woke up, I was surprised to hear a rooster crowing sound a few times in the morning on a raining day. I looked at my windows trying to find the rooster in the raining weather but can’t find it. I was surprised to hear a rooster crowing around my HDB block. I live in a HDB flat, have not seen any rooster around my neighbourhood before and whatsmore on a raining weather hearing a rooster crowing. I was surprised. It can’t be an alarm clock rooster crowing sound as it doesn’t sound like an alarm clock. It sound like natural rooster crowing very loudly. This makes me think about the Bible about Peter’s denial of Jesus in Luke 22:54-62. Let’s look at the passage on Luke 22:54-62

54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55 And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56 A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”

57 But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.

58 A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”

“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.

59 About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”

60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Hearing the rooster crowing that day makes me think of Peter, Jesus and someone I know. I also remembered Jesus asking Peter after Peter repented “Do you love me?” 3 times. This is found in the Bible John 21:15-17.

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

This passage is a message God has spoken to me a few times for many years and somethings happened to my life that makes me think about Jesus and Peter. I need to feed the lambs, take care of the sheep, feed the sheep. The lamb refers to young Christian, the sheep is God's people Christian. I also know I need to look for the lost sheep those who left, those who wonder away, those who lost faith, those who have not known Jesus. Although I know His calling for me for many years, I have not completely obey God’s calling. The 1st year being a Christian, I want to obey His calling for me. I was zealous but I hesitated over the years as I started to doubt, worry and see many things that upset me. I know God is my Heavenly Father who love me, He had sent His son Jesus Christ to die for my sins, I do love my God with my heart, soul, mind and strength. As I thought about the rooster incident last month, I think perhaps this is from God a message to me. Is reminding me of a recent incident with someone I know and also His calling for me. I need to do what He has told me to do. I need to start preaching and a few other things I need to do. I have being thinking about preaching for many years and I think is time I start preaching. Hence I decided to write this sermon to share God’s word. We need to be obedient to God.

Now let’s continue for the 2nd commandment to Love your neighbor as yourself, I admit it may be difficult. Sometimes we may not know our words and actions actually hurt others, be careful with your words and action. When you are considerate, caring for others. You are showing love. Do not use force, harsh words. Will you want others to say harsh words, do things that hurt you? If you don’t. Then, treat others as yourself. You don’t want to be hurt so does others. Don’t hurt them with your words and actions. Over the years, I have seen how some Christians hurt other Christians. Even though some Christians may have being Christian for many years longer than me but they still do not apply what they have learned from the Bible. Some are even pastors, preachers and even seminary lecturers. What has happen to the church? Some boast about their PHDs, Bible knowledge, title. Some churches don’t get along with other churches. Some members in their own church disagree too. Even some pastors don’t get along with other pastors. What has the church become? Where is unity? Where is love? May God forgive us. We have not apply what we are told to do by God to love our neighbour as ourselves. May we be able to love our neighbour as ourself.

Are you a Christian, a Church worker, a pastor, a seminary lecturer? Has your heart turn cold? Maybe you didn’t realize your heart has turn cold. Where is the compassion, the zeal, the love for God and others? Have you lost interest in your work? You don’t like your colleagues? Don’t let your dislike of certain people affecting your work. Look at the Bible, Jesus, Joseph, Paul and many others face many persecutions but they preserve to do what God has called them to do. Jesus, Joseph, Paul forgave those who hurt them. Jesus face harsh treatment, accusation and death. Yet even before His death, Jesus prayed to God for forgiveness of people’s sins and his persecutors. Jesus prayed to be delivered, He obeyed God the Father in the end to go through death and suffering. His love for God and people shows His complete obedience. Joseph forgave his own brothers who want him dead, who sold him to become slave. He provided for them, took care of them when his family were having famine in Canaan. Paul still ministers to his persecutors even at prison. What does this shows us? God is telling us to love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

As the world is now facing Covid-19 pandemic, the churches around the world needs to unite together to bring the lost to God and help our neighbor. People need to repent for their sins and know God's word and obey them. They need to know the love of God. Remember we need to obey the 2nd commandment that is to love your neighbor as yourself. Our neighbors are people around us, our community, people that you come across, people that God brings into your life. Your family members, friends, relatives, colleagues, bosses, customers, suppliers, church worshipers, students and many more. Have you care for your neighbor, help your neighbor? You might face rejections, failure, disappointment. There might be situation where you may lose your family member or friend as you do God's will. Do not give up. Remember God does not give up looking for the lost sheep.  

Now I want you to think about this scenario. Imagine if your friend or family member suddenly tell you he/she doesn’t want to associate with you any more, doesn’t want you as his/her friend, family member. How will you feel? Heartbroken right? If you love your friend, family member dearly, you will be heart broken. I believe this is the same feeling with God the Father and God the Son Jesus Christ. If you refuse to acknowledge Him as your God, your Father, Jesus as your God and your friend, you are refusing His love for you. He will be upset. He will be longing for you to return back to Him. He will be looking for you. Remember Peter and Jesus situation I shared earlier. Come back to God, come back to your family, your friend today.

If we do not love ourselves, do not love others, do not let God lavish His love on us, it will hinder us and hurt others. You will feel separated from your loved ones if you do not learn how to receive His love. God brings people to us to shower His love for us. He brings beloved people to us. Is displaying His love for you.

In 1 John 4:8 (NIV), God has said “ Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Do you know God? Do you love God?

Ephesians 4:32 (NIV) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Repent & Reconcile with God and your friend, family today if you have left God, your friend or your family. J is your friend, your family.

1 Peter 2:17. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

In Colossians 3, God tells us the Rules for Holy Living.

Colossians 3 (NIV)
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.

You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.

But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices

10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,

24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.

God has told us "Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:16). All of us need to work on our holiness to please and obey God. We are not perfect. At the point where you are struggling, remember God’s word to be holy. Pray to God.

We need to honor and love everyone to serve God.

The love God is telling us to do is not the lustful sinful love. Is the genuine love for others. Do not misunderstand the meaning of God’s word and other’s love for you. Remember God’s word that we need to be holy and not have any sinful thoughts.

Life in earth is short. Treasure it. Treasure God, your family & friends.

Life is unpredictable. Appreciate it. Appreciate what God has given you, your family & friends.

We never know what will happen to us and people around us.

We must seek God, love God with our heart, our mind, our soul and strength.

We must be willing to accept God’s grace and give grace to those who don’t deserve it.

God has told us we are His Bride. The Church is His Bride, He loves us and wants us to love Him, to be faithful, loyal and committed to Him. There shall not be any 3rd party, other gods, other idols. He wants our utmost devotion to Him.

Our love of God must be more than our love for other people. Remember to love God with all your heart, soul and mind as this is God’s 1st commandment.

Don’t forget to love others too. We need to also love others as this is God’s 2nd commandment.

If we truly love God, we will keep the commandments and obey Him.

We love because God 1st love us.

Dearest Heavenly Father, thank you for your word today. Forgive us as some of us have not love you with all our heart, soul and mind completely. Forgive us O Lord. Please forgive our sins. Today is Valentine’s Day is about Love. We remember your love for us O Lord. You had said you are Love. You have love us so much that you had sacrifice your son Jesus Christ for atonement of our sins. Please Heavenly Father, remember your love for us. Continue to love us always and be with us. Be merciful, compassionate and gracious to us. Help us to remember your word to love and obey you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. May we be able to love our neighbor as ourself too and obey all your commandments. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

I hope this sermon touches you and help you. May you have a Blessed Valentine's Day and for those of you who are Chinese may you have a Blessed Chinese New Year. God blessed.

Janice Ong

Founder of Christ Unite.

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