Summary: The greatest commandment is to love God, and the second is to love people. What does it mean to truly love God with all our heart?
It is not easy to sum up all the commandments that govern life in one or two sentences, but Jesus did it. It is amazing! Think about it. If you get these commands right, you’ll get the rest right.
Jesus says (in Matthew’s version), “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:40)
Picture with me this scene and you’ll understand:
• The nation of Israel was given the Ten Commandments - unfortunately, over the years, many rules were added (according to Jewish tradition, God gave the Jewish people 613 nutzvot (commandments).
• Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets – according to Jewish tradition, the purpose for having two tablets was to divide the Ten Commandments under two rubrics. The first tablet, we are told, contained the so-called religious commandments, describing obligations owed to God. The second tablet contained ethical or moral commandments, describing obligations we owe to one another as creatures of God and as fellow human beings."
• As Moses held on to these two tablets – in a similar way we are told to hold on to these two tablets tightly – love for God, and love for people.
If you love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, then you would be able to keep the first four commandments – (1) you shall have no other gods before me; (2) you shall not make for yourself an idol, no graven image of any kind; (3) you shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God; and (4) remember the Sabbath day and keeping it holy – you’ll remember the Lord’s Day and honour your appointment with Him.
If you love your neighbours as yourselves, then you would have kept the next six commandments – (1) honour your father and mother (the first human relationship that you established); (2) you shall not murder; (3) you shall not commit adultery; (4) you shall not steal; (5) you shall not give false testimony against your neighbour; and (6) you shall not covet your neighbour’s stuff.
If you can truly keep these dual commandments, you would probably be able to keep the rest.
And the sequence is important – there is a first and second. Jesus mentioned a second – this is important. It flows from the first. It is called second because it can only be truly possible when we have the first. When we love God with all our heart, we will be able to love people. Even people hard to love, people we can’t love. We become channel of His love!
The Bible says so: “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts (KIV) - God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” (Rom 5:5)
What do you think happens when someone tries to love others without loving God?
All that they have would be human love – as best as it can be, it is limited, uncertain, imperfect, subjected to change… That’s all you’ve got!
What about the other way around – do you think it’s possible to love God without love our neighbours?
It’s paradoxical, right? Because if you truly love God and know Him, you’ll find yourself loving the things He loves. It will change you!
If you really love God in the way Jesus described, you will love your neighbour. Who is our neighbour? In Jesus’ definition, giving in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) it means anyone who crosses our path. In fact, it is everyone who crosses our path.
Why do you think God brings some people into your life? Why do you think you cross path with some people and not others? God wants us to touch their lives with His love.
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Jesus says, “The most important 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.” (Mark 12:29-30)
God doesn’t want a part of your life. He asks for all your heart, all your soul, your entire mind, and all your strength. God is not interested in half-hearted commitment, partial obedience, and the leftovers of your time and money. He desires your full devotion, not little bits of your life.
A Samaritan woman once tried to debate Jesus on the best time, place, and style for worship. Jesus replied that these external issues are irrelevant; what matters is your heart. Where you worship is not as important as why you worship and how much of yourself you offer to God when you worship.
Jesus says this is the most important commandment – in order words, (1) to love God is the first purpose of your life. You are created and commanded to love Him. It is our greatest responsibility and our highest privilege. It should have take priority over everything else. It is not a part of your life; it is your life, and every activity can be transformed into an act of love for the praise, glory, and pleasure of God.