“What is the greatest commandment?” Asked an expert in the law to test Jesus that last week of his life on earth. Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:34)”

Love is such a slippery word these days. As a young adult, it was code for “I want to sleep with you, no strings attached.” Perhaps as middle aged spouses, the pain of divorce scarred your life and left a sour taste in your mouth for “love.” Is love something like “magic” as in the movie Sleepless in Seattle? You just know because of a feeling somewhere in a place Americans identify as the heart. At a Marriage Encounter weekend I attended back in the early 70s, we were told that love is a verb, not some feeling floating inside our mind, and thus love is a commitment that comes from the will.

As we ponder this month God as our first priority, it seems that is only possible because we are a first priority to God. We love because he loved us first. We hang in there with that wayward teenager, negligent spouse who doesn’t appreciate us, and forgetful friend, because God gives us the strength to do so. We hang in when things don’t go the way we want and bear that pain. 1 Corinthians 13 has a whole chapter on the characteristics of love, and ends, “Now faith, hope and love abide but the greatest of these is love.”

We started thinking about the command to love God but really, love is not something I can manufacture. I believe love is not magic but a gift. Love is not floating in the air like covid but is embedded in life choices to respond to God and to others. Love is a decision to forgive and persevere. Today as you face challenges to your capacity to love, do not look to self but to God who is love! Blessings.

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