The Jewish sects of Jesus’ day often tried to cause Jesus to trip up in his teaching. They never accomplished this. The Pharisees once posed the question, “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” (Matt. 22:36-40).
These two commands summarize our duty to God and to mankind. To love is to act with the greatest benefit to others in mind. Love is not fickle, selfish sentiment. It is genuine concern. We must love God with every fiber of our being. Love prompts us to do right by God, to obey him and serve him. “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). God does not ask too much of us, and all his commands are in our best interest. Keeping his commands keeps us in his favor (Jude 21). The first four of the 10 Commandments address man’s duty to God. The latter six deal with man’s duty to fellowmen. No wonder Jesus said these two great commands summarize all the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 22:37-40). Remember that people in Jesus’ day still lived under the Law. They did not yet know the grace found in the gospel. But even then, they were to live by the great commands of love for God and for one another.
Only when we comprehend the meaning of the first great command, can we understand the second. We must love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Our neighbor is anyone who needs us, not just someone who lives close by us (Luke 10:27, 36-37). To love our neighbor is to meet his need as if it were our own need (1 John 3:16-17). Love is not just a word; it is a way of acting—the best way. Love God supremely; put him first. Love others freely; meet their needs. Jesus’ summary of the Old Law also summarizes our duty in the Gospel age. Stay tuned…
To be a child of God is the greatest privilege we have, but we also have responsibility. May God bless us all as we work with his Spirit to develop the character the Father expects of his children. TC