The most powerful force in human life is love. Love will motivate people in ways that nothing else can. A husband who loves his wife will do things for her that he will do for no one else. Love will endure in ways that nothing else can. Nothing can equal the commitment of a loving mother to her child. Love will make sacrifices that nothing else will consider. Look at the sacrifices a loving spouse makes for his or her mate who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Love always hopes. Look at the loving parents who live in the hope that their addicted child will someday reach out for help.

Love advances every good thing into something that defies belief. Forgiveness is good. In any context, forgiveness functions in amazing ways. But the forgiveness that is rooted in love defies belief. Mercy is good. In any context, mercy functions in amazing ways. But the mercy that rises from love defies belief. Compassion is good. In any context, compassion functions in amazing ways. But the compassion that springs from love defies belief.

Answer this question. What is the most powerful form of love that exists? Of all forms of love, which one is the greatest? It is God Himself who revealed to us the most powerful form of love. The most powerful form of love that exists is "whole person" love.

  1. God revealed "whole person" love by showing us His love for us.
    1. God loves us with His whole being--what an incredible understanding!
      1. Because God loves us:
        1. He chooses to show us mercy instead of giving us the wrath we deserve.
        2. He chooses to forgive us instead of punishing us for our failures and mistakes.
        3. He chooses to show us patience, giving us time to repent rather than demanding that we be immediately accountable for the evil we do.
        4. He chooses to treat us with kindness instead of justice.
        5. He chose to make sacrifices for us instead of being practical and cutting His losses.
      2. God can and does make these choices to our benefit because He loves us with His whole being.
    2. In our response to His love, God expects us to love Him with our "whole person."
      1. That is God's greatest desire.
        1. That is what God had always wanted--from the moment that he created Adam and Eve.
        2. That has always been the only acceptable response to God's love.
        3. Heaven will be filled with people who love God with their whole person.
      2. Deuteronomy 6:4, 5 introduced Israel to this expectation.
        1. With God's direction and through God's instruction, Moses:
          1. Secured the release of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery.
          2. Led Israel across the Red Sea to escape the Egyptian army.
          3. For forty years he led them in a hostile wilderness.
          4. Twice he led them to the border of the country God promised to give them.
        2. The last time he led them to that border he was a very old man, about 120 years old.
          1. The Old Testament book named Deuteronomy is Moses' last instructions and directions to the nation before he dies.
          2. It is a review of God's instructions and expectations.
          3. Listen to this statement:
            The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
      3. Hundreds of years later the New Testament Gospel of Luke (10:25-28) tells us that a lawyer approached Jesus asking, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
        1. That kind of lawyer was not the same occupation of the lawyers of today.
          1. He was an expert in Jewish law, in religious law, in what we call the law of Moses.
          2. His question was not a serious question--he asked Jesus a religious question designed to put Jesus to the test.
          3. He was the expert in religious law; Jesus was an uneducated teacher from the country.
        2. Jesus returned his question to him: "You are the expert; how do you read the law? What answer does the law give to your question?"
          1. Since the man was knowledgeable and regarded himself to be the expert, he answered without hesitation.
          2. This was his answer: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27).
        3. Jesus responded: "You have given the correct answer; do this and you will live."
      4. The Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 22:34-40) tells us that another lawyer approached Jesus during the last week of his life.
        1. This lawyer was a part of the group of Pharisees who were determined to discredit Jesus and turn the people against him.
          1. They had already plotted together to try to trap Jesus in something that he said (Matthew 22:15).
          2. Each attempt was very unsuccessful, so the lawyer asked a question that he hoped would trip Jesus.
          3. The question: "Teacher, of all the commandments from God recorded in the law that Moses gave us, which one of those commandments is the greatest commandment?"
          4. By greatest commandment, he meant which one commandment of all the commandments that God gave us is the most important.
        2. Jesus answered without hesitation:
          'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
        3. Then Jesus made this astounding statement: "On these two commandments depend the whole law and the Prophets."
        4. These two commandments stand as the foundation of every commandment given by God given to Israel!
      5. During this same week, the last week of Jesus' life, the Gospel of Mark (Mark 12:28-34) tells us that a scribe was listening to all the attempts to discredit Jesus.
        1. A scribe was a person who wrote; one of his most important jobs was to produce copies. Likely this scribe was one of the men who helped make copies of scripture.
          1. Since the printing press would not be invented for hundreds of years, all copies of scripture had to be hand copied.
          2. This man was likely one of the people who helped do that.
          3. The very exact, deliberate process of copying scripture would make him very knowledgeable about what scripture said.
        2. One day this scribe was listening as different groups were politely asking Jesus questions that were intended to make Jesus look foolish or stupid.
          1. He was impressed with Jesus' answers, for Jesus never sounded foolish, uninformed, or stupid.
          2. He was impressed with the way Jesus handled the situation.
        3. So this scribe asks a serious question: "What is the most important commandment God has given us?"
        4. Jesus answered:
          The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. ' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
        5. Then Jesus said, "There is no other commandment greater than these."
        6. The scribe agreed. In fact, the scribe declared that these two commandments were more important than the commandments to offer sacrificial worship to God.
        7. When Jesus heard the scribe answer so intelligently, he told the scribe, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."

  2. I want you to think with me for a minute.
    1. What can you do to give the greatest possible obedience to God?
      1. Of everything that is within human ability to do, what is the most important obedience you can give?
      2. What obedience does God see as being the most significant obedience we can give?
    2. We give the greatest possible obedience when we obey the greatest commands, or, we give the most important possible obedience when we obey the most important commands.
      1. When we love God with "whole person" love, we are rendering the greatest obedience possible.
      2. When we love God with "whole person" love, we will express that love in loving others as we love ourselves.
      3. There is no obedience we can offer that is more important than that obedience.
      4. I am not suggesting that because we obey these two commandments we can ignore any of God's other instructions.
        1. But these two commands are the foundation for all obedience.
        2. If we obey all other commands but these two, we have nothing.
      5. Why? "Whole person" love is the most accurate reflection of God that we are capable of reflecting.
      6. The scribe understood that "whole person" love is more important than obeying worship commands.
        1. The scribe was not suggesting that worshipping God was unimportant; he was acknowledging that in the list of spiritual priorities, loving God is number one on the list.
        2. That sounds so strange to us that it sounds like it just could not be correct--we have been told many times through the years that worship is number one on the list of spiritual priorities.
        3. It is possible to do everything we are instructed to do in worship without loving God--we can cross every "T" and dot every "i" and do it without love.
        4. But it is impossible to love God with your "whole person" and not worship God.
        5. Worship coming from love is powerful; worship without love is without meaning.
        6. Jesus even said that "whole person" love for God and loving people as we love ourselves is the highway to heaven.
      7. Paul wrote in Romans 13:8,10:
        Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
        Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.

  3. I personally do not believe that it is possible to exaggerate the power and the importance of "whole person" love.
    1. Nothing is needed more desperately right now than for us to allow God to teach us how to love with the "whole person," and then for us to love God with the "whole person."
      1. When you see marriages that are truly successful, you are witnessing "whole person" love. You are witnessing a person love someone else as much as he or she loves self.
        1. In truly successful marriages there is communication, kindness, supportiveness, consideration, compassion, unselfishness, sacrifice, joy, respect, appreciation, consideration, mercy, and forgiveness.
        2. Those things exist only where there is "whole person" love.
      2. When you see exceptional, enduring friendships, you are witnessing whole person love. You are watching someone love another person as much as he or she loves self.
        1. In an exceptional friendship that endures there is trust, respect, appreciation, kindness, empathy, consideration, the keeping of confidences, joy, kindness, generosity, and supportiveness.
        2. Those things only exist where there is "whole person" love.
      3. When you see extraordinary parent-child relationships, you are witnessing "whole person" love. You are witnessing parents and children love the other as self is loved.
        1. In the parent you see nurturing, compassion, forgiveness, encouragement, communication, constructive discipline, support in trials, assistance in failure, compliments in success, reasonable expectations, and a constant attention to education in life and values.
        2. In the child you see honor, respect, confidence, dependence, awareness that affection and support are unconditional, and a never-failing confidence in the fact that the child is important and significant.
        3. Those things only exist where there is "whole person" love.
      4. When you see quality Christian relationships, you are witnessing "whole person" love. You are watching people who love others as much as they love themselves.
        1. There are Christian relationships in which the persons could not be closer if they had been born in the same family.
        2. The love they have for each other, the support they give others, the understanding they share, the bond that exists between heart, mind, and soul are so unusual that a person has few such relationships in life.
        3. That exists only where there is "whole person" love.
      5. When you see an exceptional congregation, you are witnessing "whole person" love. You are witnessing people who are committed to loving others as much as they love themselves.
        1. In such a congregation there is a spirit, an attitude, a state of heart and of mind that you can actually feel.
        2. It is so caring, so positive, so genuine, people want to be a part of that community of Christians.
        3. These people don't just meet a couple or three times a week and go their separate ways--they love being together, talking, sharing, and laughing--and they love helping, encouraging, and lifting up.
        4. They as quickly cry together as they laugh together.
        5. They reach out to others--they are not a closed family but an open community.
        6. They are hungry to make strangers quickly feel welcome, to make newcomers feel a part, to lift up the spirits of the discouraged, to help bear burdens, and to encourage.
        7. They find joy in each other just as they find it in God.
        8. That exists only where there is "whole person" love.

Whole person love is the most powerful force on earth. It is the most powerful force on earth because it is the finest reflection of God on earth. It can be the most powerful, positive force in your life. If it is, it will change every relationship in your life.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 23 February 1997

 Link to next sermon

 Link to other Writings of David Chadwell