Michael Youssef - Growing In Your Love For Jesus - Part 3
Remember the '80s and the '90s, there was a bracelet that so many people would wear, particularly young people but then even older people were wearing it. Some of you remember that, "What Would Jesus Do"? That was what it stood for. A wonderful concept, a wonderful reminder. It's a great witnessing tool. Some enterprising marketers, however, turned this well-intentioned concept into a fashion and became fashionable and lots of people were wearing the bracelet WWJD so much so that a lot of people were wearing it and didn't have a clue what it stands for. In a very similar way, in the Old Testament that was the same thing. People in the Old Testament were given by God what the greatest commandment is, and the greatest commandment summarizes all of the Ten Commandments. Because if you love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, you're not gonna break the first five, and if you love your neighbor as yourself, you're not gonna break the second five.
So there's summary of the entire Ten Commandments in that great commandment that the scripture gave to the people in the Old Testament. Just like modern young people who did not know what this WWJD means, they recited the great commandments. They didn't have a clue what it means. They never understood the commitment of what it means to love God with all your heart. The Jewish people at the time wore that great commandment on their wrist. As people wearing watches, they wore it on their wrist. They wore it on their forehead, particularly the pious ones. They nailed it to the post of their doors. They call it the mezuzah now. They still do it. Now, I have a dear friend, a Jewish friend, doesn't believe a thing, but when he comes to his house, he kisses it and touches it. This is a great commandment. It's supposed to contain the great commandment. It was known in the Old Testament and the New as the shama. Can you say that with me?
The word "shama" in Hebrew means hear or listen. Not just hearing with your ear, I mean really intently listen or hear very carefully. And so the shama, the reason as to call it the shama is because the first word is hear or listen, O Israel. Shama, O Israel. Shama. Listen closely. Listen carefully. Don't miss what I'm going to tell you, if put in my vernacular. "Listen, O Israel. Hear, O Israel. The Lord your God is one God and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself". The Jewish children memorize that shama the moment they learn to talk. As soon as they say "Mommy" and "Daddy," they learn the shama. By the time of Jesus's earthly ministry, the rabbis have demanded that all Jewish men must recite this shama twice a day, twice a day, yet like the kids who were wearing "What Would Jesus Do" bracelet, they didn't have a clue as to the depth of that commandment means.
The vast majority of the Jewish folks in the time of Jesus, they recited it, but their lives were far away from loving God with all their might, with all their strength, and with all their heart and with all their mind. Twice a day, they would recite it. Twice a day, had to recite it. They placed it on the doorstep, and every time they came to the house, they kissed it, the mezuzah, and yet their lives were far from loving God, let alone with all of their heart, all of their soul, all of their mind. Evidence? When the Messiah arrived, who prophesied in every book of the Old Testament he's coming, he's coming, he's coming; details about his birth, death, and resurrection. When the Messiah arrived, according to their book, they rejected him. What was happening is this. What they were saying with their lips, they were denying with their life. What they were proclaiming publicly, they were denying in practice.
This is what's happening today. It's happening today. We have come a long way from believing that God hears everything, that God knows everything, that God watches everything we do. He knows our hearts, that he will hold us accountable for every idle words that uttered from our mouth. I'm going to ask you now to turn, please, in your Bibles to Matthew 22:32 to 39. The context of this passage, and you see that very clearly here, is that the Pharisees believed in the Resurrection, that they believed in life after death. When they saw that the Sadducees, just think about them this way. They are sad, you see, because they did not believe in the Resurrection. They said once you die, you die, and that's it. In many ways, there are a lot of Sadducees around.
So the Sadducees were coming to trying to trick Jesus to say something to support their argument that there is no life after death, that there is no resurrection, and Jesus just blew them off. And so the Pharisees kind of thought to themselves, they said, "You know, they could not argue with Jesus like we can. We know the Bible. We have the rabbi's teaching about the Bible. We memorized all these things. We will know how to get him. The Sadducees failed because they don't know their Bible as well as we do, and now let us trick him. Let's really get him because the Sadducees couldn't". And so they figured that if anyone can be a match for Jesus to trick him, to trap him to say something that makes the crowd go against him, if they can find, if anyone can do that, it's a lawyer. Lawyers.
You see, the lawyers back then were distinguished from the church leaders. They really were, were separate, and they were actually considered to be more honest than the religious leaders. However, this particular lawyer that they have chosen to go against Jesus, debating Jesus really was not very honest. I'm going to tell you why. He allowed his clients, the Pharisees, to use him to trick Jesus. So at best he had duplicity mixed with a measure of sincerity. Let's give him his due, but you have to understand, to the Pharisees, Moses is about as high as you're gonna get. There is no one, not even Abraham. I mean, Moses was it. No greater than Moses. After all, he spoke with God face to face. After all, he was handed the Ten Commandments by God himself. After all, he delivered their ancestors from the slavery of Egypt. After all, I mean, he has done some great things, and he was considered to be the humblest man ever walked the earth.
So the Pharisees are putting hope against hope that Jesus would teach something contrary to Moses, contrary to the Old Testament, contrary to the scripture, even though, listen to me, even though earlier in his ministry in Matthew chapter 5, verse 17 and 18, early on he has told them again and again and again that he did not come to abolish the commandment, he came to fulfill them. What was Jesus's response to their trickery, to the trick question? What is the greatest commandment? Without a moment's hesitation, the Lord turned to his Bible, to their Bible, affirm again and again the shama. Say it with me again. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind".
Today I'm gonna focus on loving God with your mind. I'm gonna tell you why in a minute, in the next couple of messages, and we're going to deal with the others. Why am I beginning with the mind? Because loving God with all your mind, not just with your mind. With all your mind means that you love God with your intellect, that you love God with your intelligence, that you love God with a determination and a commitment, and not as they were doing back then and only loving God with their words, loving God with their rituals, but not with all of the totality of their being. Loving God with all of your mind means that it is not what you can get from God, or what you can gain from God, or what you can receive from God but what you can give back to God in response to his love for you. To love God with consuming love, and to love God with all-consuming love is to obey his Word, is to obey him unconditionally.
It's not to go for a smorgasbord where I like this thing, and I like that part, and I like that one. I don't like this, and I like this, so I'm gonna obey here but not gonna obey here. When this particular lawyer whose clients, the Pharisees, were trying to get him to trick Jesus to expose him as an impostor, as somebody's contradicting their Bible, they're contradicting their Old Testament, contradicting Moses and so he comes to ask Jesus what is the greatest commandment, and they're literally waiting for him to say something that is contrary. Jesus did not give them anything new, nothing new. He did not give them something that they've never heard before. He did not try to mesmerize them with some dazzling, new fad or a newfangled ideas. No. You often hear me say that. I say if you think that I'm gonna preach some brilliant thoughts or some newfangled philosophy or a fad or any of this stuff, you'll be disappointed. You'll be disappointed.
I only preach the Book. I only preach from the Book. I only get from the Book. I only go through the Word of God because everything else will pass but not the Word of God. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind". That's what I'm focusing on today, with all your mind. Why? Because love, real love, true love, godly love, biblical love must begin, continue, and then end in death with commitment. Your biblical love, love must begin, continue, and then end in death in your mind with your intellect, with your will. When you love Jesus with all your mind, it is a determination that nothing will distract you. Nothing will distract you. Loving Jesus with all your mind means he's first and foremost. He's first and foremost. Some of you will know what I'm talking about.
In the '80s and the '90s, there were a lot of Christian motivational speakers. God bless them. They were giving speeches in churches and in conferences and conventions, and writing books, how to order your priorities, how to order your life, and every one of them basically would agree that this is four priorities and they must follow in this order: God, family, work, church; God, family, work, church. Can you see anything wrong with that? No. But I wanna tell you I failed miserably. I tried to do that, and I failed miserably. So the other people that I knew, let us be honest, okay? Play the game here with my priority, you know, and people will put them down. You know, affirmation every day. God... I'll tell you why I failed miserably and so is everybody else, for that matter.
First of all, I realized it's a cop-out. It's a cop-out because we are physical. We're physical, right? And what catches our physical eyes, what is visible to us is going to grab our attention, and I can say God, family, church, all that stuff a million times, ain't gonna make any difference because I am being immediately focused on what's in front of me, what my eyes can see. That's what occupies my priority. That is the focus of my love unless, listen to me, unless you are super spiritual, okay? But listen to me. I'm not. Any of you think I'm super spiritual, I want to disabuse you of that. I'm not.
You say, "Pastor, you confess..." Of course, I'm confessing. Absolutely. The moment you think you're super spiritual, you're in trouble. So I basically failed, and I failed miserably. Because this so-called list of priorities, God, family, work, church, and all that stuff, it's just on paper. It sounds good. Has no relationship to reality. Finally, as I went to the Lord in utter desperation, literally, I was weeping before God, I said, "I'm failing every time". And God did not destine us to failure, and I realized the image the Lord gave me at the time is that of an axle of a bicycle. Think of a bicycle tire, of a bicycle tire. Just think of it this way. I should have had something visible to show you what I mean, but use your imagination, okay? If my love for Jesus is the axle, every other love, the spoke that comes out of that as, go in and out and in and out of that tire. Everything is ordered around that love for God. All other loves revolve around my love for God.
Jesus is the hub around which all my life's priorities, all my love's priorities emanate from and goes back to. Jesus is the center of all my other loves, hear me out, please, because otherwise God will always get the short end of the stick. You know I'm telling you the truth, right? What will God get? He will get the leftover. He will get the crumbs, but loving God with my mind, it means that he gets the first fruit of the day, not the rotten fruit at night when I'm tired. It means that he gets the first fruit of my money, not the leftover. It means that he gets consulted and his will is sought before I embark on any ventures or any ideas or any vision instead of jumping ahead of him, which I've done before, and failing miserably and cry out to him, "God, get me out of this". Jesus made it very simple. "If you love me, you obey me". Hello? "You love me, you obey my Word". You're not gonna pick and choose. Obeying requires a decision of the mind. The determination of the will is why we say make up your mind. Make up your mind. It is a determination. In fact, the word "decision" is cutting, that you're making deciding for one thing over against the others, rejecting all the others.
In the next message, I'm going to show you how to love Jesus with your imagination of your soul, but I started with the mind because it's vitally important, because if your will is in gear and ready to go, all of the other things are going to fall in place. I'm aware, only too aware that our past failures are like chains that will hold us back and keep us from going in our love for Jesus. I know that experientially, and that is why, as I bring this message to conclusion, I'll plead with you just listen to me, please. Things that you thought impossible... let me tell you something. I can write a book on how many things that God has opened doors and done things that many people have said to me it's impossible, and I will say to them, "The devil already told me that, but I serve the God of the impossible". But it all begins with a determination of the mind that you're going to love God with all your mind. Say that with me. Why? Because that honors God, that honors God, and when you honor God, he honors you back. That's very biblical. "I honor those who honor me," says the Lord.