Pastoral Letter 29 May 2022
My dear readers,
All Christians Possess This Greatest Love
Love is a wonderful experience that we all know very well. There is the love of parents that we are always grateful for. They sacrifice so much of their lives to raise us from birth. We do not need to be Christians to experience this love. The love between husband and wife is also special, which unlike the love of parents is “chosen” by us when we marry. Those who are not married have not experienced this love; not that they do not have it, in that this love might be buried in their hearts until they find the right person and then it is “awakened”.
The love between friends is also by choice. This is a brotherly love that is based upon a friendliness that can be severed quite easily when betrayal or even a misunderstanding is not settled and forgiven. We have seen and experienced such love before in our lives. “From friends to enemies” is a sad and tragic experience that haunts most of us, especially so the older we get. To look and find many such heart breaks brings tears to dry eyes. Is there not a love that is so strong that it transcends all situations in life, that regardless of the reciprocal behaviour of others it will remain strong, pure and good?
Thank God there is.
It is revealed to us in Mark 12:29-31: “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” A love that is strong and independent of painful rejections and that enables us to love our neighbour has to be God’s love.
This love from God is a gift. It is not buried in a person and is awakened because of a change in a life situation like parental love. This love is shed abroad, i.e. poured forth, in the hearts of all born-again believers by the Holy Spirit when they receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Romans 5:5: “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” This is the agape love that is from God that only Christians have. This love enables every Christian to love unconditionally and sacrificially. With this love, every believer is able to love God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength.
To love God with all our heart – This love originates from within the believer’s heart. The heart is the seat of our motives. The motive of the believer is his love for God only. It is no longer his love for his family, job, friends, country, noble causes, sports and self. With this new motive, he is able to love God independent of the external circumstances. He could be in jail or crucified on the cross for the sake of Christ; his love for God enables him to endure without bitterness or anger.
To love God with all our soul – The soul refers to the real entire being of the believer. The real him is not his body but his soul. When the body dies, the soul lives on, either in heaven or in hell. In the case of the believer, his soul enters heaven. To love God with all our soul is to love Him with our whole being. There is no hypocrisy. There is only sincerity and transparency.
To love God with all our mind – The mind is the thinking part where sentimentalism is not included. It is not blind emotion. It is a love based upon biblical knowledge of who God is as revealed in the Bible. God is not an invention of man’s imagination. He is the Creator of heaven and earth. He is the God who first loved us by sending Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, to die on the cross for us. God raised Jesus Christ from the dead to let us know that Christ’s suffering and death was accepted by Him as full payment for the innumerable sins we have committed against Him. He is the God who cannot lie. The more we know God, the better and deeper will our love be. It is a love that is based upon understanding and conviction. It is not possible to truly love someone we do not know!
To love God with all our strength – Strength refers to the physical strength of the believer. His love for God is expressed in actions, in his life and deeds. To love someone with words and feelings only is hypocritical love. To love God means that we must obey Him and serve Him. We toil tirelessly because we love Him. We give our tithes and offerings because we love Him. We give of our lives to serve Him, even unto death, because we love Him. There is no One better to live and die for in all that we do and say than God almighty!
All the above four aspects must be surrendered unconditionally to God. If one aspect is not obeyed then the other three cannot be obeyed.
With this love in our hearts, we can love our neighbour. Our neighbour can be divided into two types. The first relates to us and the second relates to God.
We have friends and loved ones whom we must love with God’s love. This love for God is always founded in God's Truth, the Bible. Then there are those who persecute us, our enemies. We love them too by turning the other cheek when they slap us. We go the second mile when they ask us to go one. We pray for them when they despitefully use us. We do all these for the sake of Christ and with the love of God constraining. The hope is that they will believe in Christ.
The enemies of God must also be loved by us. We love them by hating them. This is not the hate that is based upon malice or revenge but one of truth and righteousness. It is righteous anger. To treat them kindly in the slightest manner would mean that we approve of their attack on God and Christ! David expressed this very well in Psalm 139:20-24: “For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” It is perfect, i.e. complete hatred. These enemies of God must know that they are doing the work of the devil. They need to see the severity of their sin against God. We, as God’s representatives on earth, must represent God rightly. They have not only rejected God’s love in Christ but now they are distorting God and Christ and also preventing others from believing in God and Christ. They are deceiving and leading many to hell because of their attacks. For example, when they attack the Bible, they attack God and Christ. They are undermining the trust we have in God and Christ. All the doctrines of the Bible come under attack in one fell swoop! This is the deadliest of all attacks in contrast to the devil’s attack on one doctrine at a time.
The two commandments in Mark 12:29-31 are the greatest of all the commandments because they pertain to the motives behind all our thoughts, words and actions. If the motive is based upon the love of God and neighbour as explained above, we will always obey the Bible and act accordingly. We will do all things to glorify God and draw men, women and children to the Saviour Jesus Christ. This is taught by God in Matthew 22:40: “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” If we obey these two greatest commandments, God says it is equivalent to obeying all the laws and the prophets! May God keep our love for Him burning hot and strong so that we will never outlive our love for Him. Amen.
Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew