“When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Jesus had a great way of making the religious people look sort of ridiculous. He took a complicated system of laws and statutes and expressed them in a way that was simple and easy to follow. And this confounded the priests. After all, they had spent generations constructing these laws down to the minute detail, and He was able to brush all that away and get down to the heart of the matter.
And yet, the truths He spoke were very deep and full of meaning. The difference between the man-made laws and Jesus’ interpretation, I believe, comes down to an “action vs. attitude” scenario.
For example, one of the big laws was “Do Not Commit Adultery.” I understand that. I can do that and feel very confident that I have done what God wants of me.
However, Jesus said it wasn’t about the action itself, but about my attitude, or heart condition, regarding the action. He said that if I even looked at anyone other than my spouse (with lustful thoughts) that I would be committing adultery. That is a whole other issue. Controlling my thoughts and emotions creates an internal struggle within my soul. Sure I can walk away from potentially adulterous situations. That is easy. But once I have been tempted, it is going to be almost impossible to stop thinking about it. All of a sudden, when interpreted through the lens of my Savior, my “good” actions have transformed into a sinful circumstance.
For me, the same is true with the Great Commandment (both sides of it.) I can follow all the rules, keep the Sabbath, have no other gods, don’t kill, don’t lie, etc. But where does my heart lie?
Am I truly loving God with everything I have? Is He truly first in my life above everything else including my job, my family and even my own comforts?
And am I truly loving my neighbor as myself? Or do I placate this requirement by doing a volunteer day every once in a while and giving money when asked for a missions offering? Do I love the neighbor that I don’t like? Am I Ioving people that make me uncomfortable? Is my daily life a reflection of His love for all people?
On this last day of “formal” teachings, Jesus said many things. However, above everything else, He said this was the most important. With only 2 days left with us, I believe He chose His words very carefully. So I have to take time today and dive deeply into this Commandment. I am compelled to seek His opinion on whether I am living up to it. And what HE would have me do in my pursuit of it.
Our Savior is a God of grace and mercy. His grace sustains us in our relationship with Him, and His mercy is poured over us with an expectation that we will pour it over others. Let us not allow His greatest commandment go unfulfilled, friends. Let us seek Him deeply and allow ourselves to be used as instruments of His grace and gospel message.
Song of the Day: Amazing Grace