Leo the Great: Love What God Loves and Do What God Does

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When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22: 34-40

“As the world attracts us with its appearance, and abundance and variety, it is not easy to turn away from it unless in the beauty of things visible the Creator rather than the creature is loved; for, when He says, ‘you shall love the Lord your God from all your heart, and from all your mind, and from all your strength’ (Mt. 22:37), He wishes us in nothing to loosen ourselves from the bonds of His love. And when He links the love of our neighbor also to this command, He enjoins on us the imitation of His own goodness, that we should love what He loves and do what He does.”

Leo the Great in Sermon 30.2 in Ancient Christian Doctrine, volume 4, edited by Joel C. Elowsky with series editor, Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2009) 132.

To imitate God’s goodness and generosity is to love what God loves and do what God does.

What does God love? People. He loves you and me. He loves those that look like us and are different from us. He wants us to love them too, which is why love of God and love of neighbor are connected.

What does God do? He does good in all things. We get to follow suit. We get to return fault with forgiveness. We get to serve rather than be served. We get to show grace and mercy to even the most undeserving.

Too much of giving is to things we care about. Since all we have belongs to God, and we belong to God our generosity should flow toward what God loves and cares about. We need to get ourselves out of the way.

God help us love what you love and do what you do. Amen.