Summary: The Greatest Thing you can do is to love. In the famous love chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, it says that faith, hope, and love are present, but the greatest is love. Once we respond to God’s love for us and begin to love Him back, we find that w

The Priority of Love

Matthew 22:35-40 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."

The Greatest Thing you can do is to love. In the famous love chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, it says that faith, hope, and love are present, but the greatest is love.

Once we respond to God’s love for us and begin to love Him back, we find that we are also able to love the other people in our lives as well.

1. Love God

-It is one thing for a person to set out and try to do this; it is another thing entirely when we discover that we cannot. Loving God is what we were made for, yet sometimes it seems like we don’t even come close to really knowing Him or loving Him.

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

-And yet just being loved by God is not enough. We must receive His love and allow it to change us. Then we become capable of the kind of love that comes from Him!

1 John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

-See, sin and selfishness rob us of our ability to love. But when we receive God’s love and what He did for us through Jesus and His death on a cross, it changes us!

John 1:11-12 11 He [Jesus] came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--

-We’re talking about something more than just trying to avoid hell. Loving God is all about entering into a relationship (like a parent/child relationship) with the God who created us. And like any good relationship, this relationship is built on trust. But how can we trust someone if we do not know them? The more we get to know God through reading His words to us (the Bible), the more we will develop a trust in who He is. And when we put our trust completely in Him, He changes us on the inside and gives us the capacity to love Him back!

-Loving God is spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical. As we learn to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we begin to discover His heart for us! This is more than being loyal to a set of religious beliefs. It is more than following a set of rules and trying to be a person of good morals. It is a real give and take relationship with a real live God!

-What’s the greatest thing you could ever do? Love the Lord your God!

2. Love your Neighbor

-The Good Samaritan story is part of Luke’s account of the Greatest Commands (Love God / Love your neighbor, Luke 10). The question changes from who is my neighbor to what kind of neighbor am I to someone in need? Jesus asks, “Who was a neighbor to the man who had been robbed, beaten and left for dead? The one who showed mercy to him. Who can you show mercy to in your life?

-I studied under someone who had lived and studied in Israel and had become quite familiar with the Hebrew language and traditions. He brought out another perspective to this verse, Love your neighbor as yourself. In English the word “as” lets us know that something is being compared to another. We assume that the comparison is all about how we love ourselves and how we love our neighbor. However, this Hebrew scholar argued that the comparison was really between ourselves and our neighbor. So the idea would be, “Love your neighbor who is like yourself.”

-We’re really not all that different. Regardless of the color of your skin, or your family history, or how wealthy or poor you are, we were all made in the image of God! That is what gives us value. When we display hatred and wish harm on one another, we must be careful, because we might be lashing out at God’s image in our neighbor. Love your neighbor who really is like you – frail, weak, prone to make mistakes, sometimes fearful, sometimes stubborn, but loved by God and made in the image of God! Do not despise or treat with contempt those who bear God’s image. Sometimes God’s image is difficult to see in the midst of our failures and stubbornness. But if we will respond to His love for us, not only will His image become more visible in us, but we will find that loving our neighbor is not an impossible task! God, who lives in those who love Him back, already loves our neighbor and is helping us to do the same.

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