Greatest Commandment: Practice, Preparation & Perspiration
Jesus’ answer to the scribe when asked “What is the Greatest Commandment?” was to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, & strength and your neighbor as yourself. The second part of that takes effort on our part.
In a wonderful little book, "Dudley's Dog Days: Joining Faith to Life," by Harley G. Rusch, the family has just bought a cocker spaniel puppy named Dudley. On their way to grandma's house to show off the newest member of the family, they stop at an ice cream store. It was a hot summer day and, of course, Dudley was given an ice cream cone, too. Next they stopped at a hamburger stand for some food, which, of course, Dudley had to eat, too. Dudley had hardly gotten the hamburger down, when it came right back up along with the remains of the ice cream and cone.
They get to grandma's house, who quickly gave her grown son a tongue-lashing: "How could you give a puppy an ice-cream? Don't you know anything about taking care of a puppy?"
The author writes about his experience:
We were inexperienced at showing love to a dog. Although we loved him at first sight, the technique by which we showed that love needed a lot of improvement. It would not be the last time either. The first night, the first walk, the first trip to the vet all proved that some expertise was needed in the art of loving a puppy. Society has told us by means of movies and television that love is something that just happens. Caring for another is something you just do. How wrong can they be? To love takes the desire but also a lot of practice, preparation, and perspiration.
We discovered with Dudley that there are proper and correct ways to show love. There are also acts that can be motivated by love but can in effect be unloving like ice-cream cones for puppies
The love Jesus calls for is more than warm feelings. In fact, it does not depend on feelings at all. Jesus is talking about acts of Christian charity. That often involves "practice, preparation, and perspiration." In some cases, loving others means giving a dose of "tough love."
Your friend and Pastor,