Most of us consider ourselves to be good, and those who believe that life continues after death almost uniformly assume that they deserve a spot in heaven based on their own merits. Recently, however, I’ve been thinking and praying about a familiar passage of Scripture that pretty much places everyone under condemnation.
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” ~~Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV)
Did you notice verse 37? Can you, in all honesty, say that you love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind? As much as I long to love Him that completely, and with that level of intensity, my failure to love others as much as I love myself (verse 39) exposes my lack of love for the One Who commanded me to do so. Loving Him necessitates that I obey Him (John 15:10). And I have reason to believe, based on Romans 3:23, that every single one of you fails to obey these two commands as dismally as I do.
I find hope only in Christ’s death and resurrection. He bore the penalty for my self-centered lack of love when He died on the cross (1 John 2:2), and His resurrection gives me power to resist sin (Romans 6:1-14). By His grace, He gives me the ability to love Him and others. Although I don’t appropriate that grace as fully as I ought, I trust Him to keep working in me to help me love Him and others as He commands.
If you haven’t yet trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior by turning from your sin of self-love and placing your faith in His shed blood, I beg you to do so now. You can’t keep His commands through your own efforts, and you therefore face eternal condemnation unless you believe in Him. But once you come under His grace, He will transform you into someone who overflows with His love.