The Commands of Jesus—Part 1: How to Love God

Searching the Internet, we found lists of commands from Jesus where the number of commands varied in length from 39 to 120. Jesus actually uses the word “command” (or commandment) only once: “A new commandment I give to you that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34; also 15:12, 17, NASB). One definition of a command is an “authoritative order.” Based upon that definition, we estimate that Jesus gave approximately 73 commands.

Jesus said that all the Law and the Prophets “hang on” the commands to “Love God” and to “Love our neighbor.” Therefore, we developed this idea into four parts: (1) How to Love God, (2) How to Love Our Neighbor, (3) How to Love Our Enemy, and (4) How to Love Jesus. The purpose of this structure is to show that everything Jesus commanded seems to specifically define the behaviors or attitudes that do or do not love him, God or our neighbor.

We encourage you to spend a season of time listening to, meditating upon and even memorizing many of his commands. Here, in part one, are scriptures that teach us how to love God:

1. Although not original to Jesus, he elevates Deuteronomy 6:5 to the “first and greatest command.” Jesus said, “‘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 22:37).

2. Do what brings him praise and glory: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden . . . In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5: 14, 16). “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit [i.e., loving like me], showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)

3. Worship him only, in Spirit and in truth:

“Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”’” (Matthew 4:11; similar to Deuteronomy 6:15)

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)

4. Treasure God alone: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. . . No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:19-24)

5. Do not worry about your life or about tomorrow: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body what you will wear” (Matthew 6:25, also verse 31) . . . “your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (6:32-34).

6. Do not be afraid: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)

7. Care only about what God thinks and sees (i.e., don’t worry about what humans think or see): “Be careful not to practice your righteousness [specifically giving, prayer and fasting] in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven . . . [Do them] only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-4, see also 6, 17-18)

8. Have Faith: “‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered” (Mark 11:22; see also Hebrews 11:6).

9. Give to God what is due him: “Then he said to them, ‘So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s’” (Matthew 22:21).

 Father, we pray that by your divine glory and grace you would move us to express our love for you in meaningful and rich ways that bless and delight you. We exalt you for who you are, what you’ve done for us, and for the promises you shower upon your children. We love you, Abba!