By Allen White
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘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 22:34-40
In the tag team match of trying to tie Jesus up with His own words, the Pharisees pick up where the Sadducees failed. If they could only catch Jesus in a twisted Scripture, they would have the justification they felt they needed. But, not only does this tactic backfire, it also produces one of the most beautiful truths in Scripture.
What’s the greatest commandment? Jesus says the first and greatest commandment is to love God with our whole being: heart, soul, mind and other places mention strength. God wants our devotion through our thoughts, our feelings, our will, and our actions.
When it comes to thoughts, most believers are educated well beyond their level of obedience. We know the Bible. We’ve heard teaching. We’ve memorized Scripture. But, how has God’s Word transformed our lives?
I was talking to a pastor the other day about a series he’s starting on the “One Anothers” of Scripture – Love one another, Forgive one another, Greet one another with a holy kiss – you know the verses. He has a lot of scientists and engineers in his church. If someone says, “Well, it’s not rocket science.” In that church, it actually is.
We were talking about the outcomes for the series. If people simply studied and memorized the “One Anothers,” we agreed this would be a failure. But, to take Christ’s words to heart and actually begin to practice the “One Anothers” – there we would see success.
That may seem like such a simplistic, ridiculous example, yet how many of us have read Colossians 3:13 and continue to harbor bitterness and resentment in our hearts toward someone. It’s not so simple after all.
Jesus added a second commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” How do we love ourselves? By making sure our needs are met for starters. Who do we know whose needs aren’t met? They don’t have adequate food or shelter. Maybe they don’t have anyone to talk to. Maybe they need someone to believe in them. How can you love that person like you love yourself?
This passage, known as the Great Commandment, is Jesus saying to us, “If you don’t do anything else, love God with everything you have and love other people as much as you love yourself.” If we can get those two things down, the rest is easy.
As you think about these verses today, what do you need to surrender to God? What thought popped into your head? Now, don’t get discouraged if what you need to do seems impossible. Ask God to help you. He always will.
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