Can one be commanded to love? If a stranger comes up to you ordering you to love him or her, you (like me) would probably think he's out of his right mind. But even with people that are closer to us, oftentimes we find individuals that are just hard to love so to speak and we'd rather avoid those. Returning to the first question, we cannot really be commanded to love, can we? Our heart is free to choose whom we love and whom we don't love. Why did Jesus command us to love saying "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. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:37-40.
If we go step by step, we notice that it starts by saying "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." As in the example above with the stranger, it is much more difficult to love a foreign person that you are not familiar with and don't know what to expect from. The same way with God, if we don't first get to know God, how can we truly love Him? Once we start knowing our Creator and see all the beautiful and pure things HE invented for us, and when we see all the love HE intends for us, it is His kindness to us that makes us love Him in return. However, to love God indeed, knowing Him (or about Him) in a shallow manner is not enough. The deeper we go into discovering why GOD beyond doubt deserves our love, we find new depths of His character that make us fall in love with Him over again! Thus, getting to know God process involves spending time with Him in reading His Words in the Bible plus talking to Him in prayer and by doing that, we don't just gather information but our character, our values are changed resembling God's nature more and more!
"...So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, and I pray that you, being rooted and established in love." Ephesians 3:17. These roots and establishments in love bring more of God's image on the inside (and outside) of us, the more we soak in His presence the more we are able to walk in His plan for our lives accomplishing His will in our lives and consequently discover that we can love as He loves. The more of God's love is contained in us, the richer we will be in all other good things that come from God's Holy Spirit because every other spiritual power originates in God's love.
It all comes just by spending time and walking with God everyday, and this commandment is a natural result of our fellowship with God and we love Him because we see He deserves nothing less but to be loved with all our intellect, with all our emotions and affections.
The strength gained in God's presence enables us to successfully accomplish the second part of the love commandment: "And love your neighbor as yourself". We don't usually have problems when it comes to loving ourselves; have you noticed that regardless of your busy schedule, you make time for those things you really love doing? Yes, we don't have a problem to keep the best of everything for us if possible, do we? However, selfishness melts in the presence of God because there we realize how much more important the spiritual realm is and the love that is poured in our hearts urges us to do good to others blessing them as we've been blessed!
Have you noticed how everything flows as a consequence of spending time getting to know God? It is not by chance that the Scripture mentions that knowing God and His Son Jesus Christ, equals eternal life. Knowing GOD is that crucial and life changing, energizing and empowering us to love others, to be able to live up to a lifestyle standard that we, through our own strength could never achieve!