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?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is a pretty tall order, isn’t it? It means that we are to be devoted to the heavenly Father with our emotions and desires (heart), our inner person (soul), our thought life (mind), and all our energy (strength). We are to love God with all our being. That’s the first and greatest commandment, and there is a close second command that reveals how we are doing with the first. We are to love our neighbors (those God places in our lives) as we love and care for ourselves. The tall order just got taller.
In this passage, Jesus explains that our relationship with God is both vertical and horizontal. It reaches up to Him by the work of His Son and reaches out to others by the empowering work of the Holy Spirit. It calls for nothing less than all we are and all we have. This wholehearted love starts with those closest to us and spreads out from there. This love shows itself to your family and to the person at the hardware store who asks you to fill out five pages of information when all you need to do is return a 7/8 inch rubber washer for a 3/4 inch rubber washer! Loving others as yourself can be painfully practical.
Here’s the thing. Jesus said, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:40). I am always amazed at how Jesus brings clarity and focus. He makes the confusing clear and the complex simple. He sums up the entire Old Testament with these two commands. Now all that’s left is the application. Hmm…that’s always the hard part, isn’t it?
Father, may I love You today with everything I am and everything I have. May I demonstrate that love in practical ways to those You have placed in my life. May others know that I love You by the way I treat them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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