As we begin our final week of our study, our theme will be love as a way of life. Today, we will look at what is the greatest commandment of all; Love God, love your neighbor as yourself. Let’s begin our study.
The Greatest Commandment
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Let’s also read Mark’s version of this same scene:
The Greatest Commandment
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
Two beautiful descriptions of what our greatest commandment is, and it is so very powerful as to the power love has. These verses really solidify our theme this week, love as a way of life.
In Matthew, these verses stand the test that Jesus is given in verses 34-36. Was there ever any doubt as to what could possibly be the greatest commandment God gives to us? And Jesus doesn’t hesitate in the least, for verse 37 reminds us where our greatest love is to be directed, and not just with the heart, but with our soul and mind. This is our first and greatest commandment…love God.
What I like about Mark’s recollection is how the teacher repeated it, and Jesus approved. He knew how to love God and put God first. I think we often forget this…until we are needing God for something. Our thinking can change with these verses in that we can find so much comfort from knowing that loving God is the greatest commandment we’ll ever have.
And here’s a little secret…when we love God as God wants us to love God…nothing else matters. We don’t have a thing to worry about because our hearts, souls, and minds are exactly where they are supposed to be. If you love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, then loving your neighbor isn’t even a second thought.
Interesting how it says love our neighbor as yourself. That’s because it takes away any reservation of how much love we should give someone. This takes away any revenge we would ever want to place on someone…because you would never plan revenge on yourself, but rather want others to forgive…and love. We cannot expect what we do not do ourselves.
Love is the most power action we have. Love is not an emotion, it is an action. It covers so much beyond what we can comprehend, but it never gives up and is always there. But love is the only thing you can never keep for yourself…you have to give it away. It’s not something you can just store up, and that makes obeying this commandment that much easier. Yes…easier. Give your love away freely, as God has given it to you. And by loving God with everything you have, you will love others with that same magnitude.
My application is to put love at the forefront of my thoughts. Because by doing that, I am honoring God with the greatest commandment He demands of me.
Lord, As I enter this last week of the study, You have taught me so much beyond the simply world of love. I have seen the value it has and how Your love is above everything else. And yet I know that I don’t always love as I should. Lord, as I continue my journey, please help me to see everything with love. I want it to be my way of life, without any reservations of any kind. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen