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The Greatest Commandment

Our passage for reading is in Mark 12:28-31 about the two greatest commandments. It says:

"One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is 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.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

In another account in Matthew 22:34-40:

"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.”

In all my experiences with God, my greatest failures had been these - the failure to love God first in my life, and the failure to love others as I love myself. I had loved career and another person more than I loved God. I had also failed to honor others in love back when I was still hurting and heartbroken. It's our earthly nature to love self above God and others. But the two commandments put self in second to God and in the same level as love for others. I know it's counter cultural. We're taught to love ourselves first, to listen to the voice within. Those things are not bad just as loving yourself is not bad if done after loving Christ and not apart from Him.

The struggle for many in loving God is not knowing God enough. How can we love someone we don't know? Another struggle is trying to love God without first knowing His love for us. The most basic and important truth you will ever hear from God is that He loves you, and His love does not change any less if we perform well or if we don't perform well. God's love takes into account all our failures and sins. He reaches out first to us before we ever reached out to Him.

Some of these you have heard before already. The grand and precious message of love. :) But are we ready to love God back or are we content to pass through life without a loving relationship with our one and only Creator?

To love God is to - here goes - obey His commandments. 1 John 5:3:

"In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome."

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love."
John 15:9-10

JESUS LOVES YOU, probably much more than words can say. There is no way to measure or perfectly word out how much He loves us. Our part is to believe this LOVE and abide in this love by obeying His commands.

Jesus was perfect in obedience. He demonstrated love for God and love for others, more than Himself. He laid down His life for us. He gave His life on the cross in obedience to God and out of love for us.

"Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him."
Hebrew 5:8-9

As a result of His faith and obedience, we are made perfect in standing with God because Christ substituted His good life for our sinful self. In turn, this understanding of our acquired righteousness in Christ leads us to live righteous lives here on earth. It gives us the power to follow the commands to love God and love others as we love ourselves.

Let us pray:

Heavenly Father, we acknowledge that we have lived life apart from You. We have made decisions according to our own understanding, will, timing and ways, and have failed to regard your commands as holy. Forgive us Father we pray in the name of Jesus and we accept Jesus' lordship over our lives. We submit ourselves to Him as living sacrifices and we ask for your help in loving others just the way you see them and believe in them. This we fervently pray in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.