W. Austin Gardner
Commanded to Love
Is it possible to command somebody to love? Isn’t love a mysterious thing that just appears, a wonderful emotion that’s either there or it isn’t there? No, not according to Scripture. In the life of the believer, love is an act of the will: we choose to relate to God and to other persons in a loving way no matter how we may feel. Christian love simply means that we treat others the way God treats us. In His love, God is kind and forgiving toward us, so we seek to be kind and forgiving toward others (Eph. 4:32). God wills the very best for us, so we desire the very best for others, even if it demands sacrifice on our part. Love isn’t simply an exotic feeling; love leads to action. “God so loved … that he gave” (John 3:16). The virtues of love that are listed in 1 Corinthians 13:4–7 describe how we treat people and not just how we feel about them.
To love God and worship and serve Him is the highest privilege we can have, so when the Lord commands us to love, He is inviting us to that which is the best. But our love for God must involve the totality of the inner person—“with all your heart … soul … and strength.” It isn’t necessary to define and distinguish these elements, as though they were three different internal human functions. In some Scriptures only two are named (Deut. 4:29; 10:12; Josh. 22:5), while in other parallel Scriptures there are four (Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). The phrase simply means “all that is within you” (Ps. 103:1), a total devotion to the Lord. If the inner person is completely yielded to the Lord and open to His Word as ministered by His Spirit, then the feelings will follow. But even if they don’t, we must still relate to other people as the Lord relates to us.
Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Equipped, “Be” Commentary Series (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub., 1999), 46.