Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
When I say the word, “commandment,” of what do you first think? Many think of the Ten Commandments, which God gave to Israel through Moses on Mount Sinai. Some think of obedience, because when command-ments are given, obedience is required. Others think of the Law, or the Mosaic Law, which was given to Israel and consisted of hundreds of commandments. But rarely does anyone think of love. And yet Jesus made it clear that love is at the very core of the greatest commandments.
In my preaching series on “Confronting Complacency,” I addressed the question, “Are You Obeying the Two Greatest Commandments?” Jesus identified these two commandments in answer to a question by a Pharisee, one skilled in the law: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matt. 22:36) As so often with the Pharisees in their confrontation of Jesus, their question was intended to trip Him up. It was a “trick” question. What would you expect Jesus to say in response? Would He point out two of the Ten Commandments? Which of the 613 under the Law would He select? He likely surprised the Pharisees with His answer. The answer likely convicted their hearts, as it does ours. Once we see the two greatest commandments, we realize that we too often are not obeying them. Evaluate your own obedience to these two commands. . . .
The first commandment: who do you love more than anything/anyone else?
In answer to the Pharisee’s question, Jesus declared, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matt. 22:37-38) This was not new truth for the Jew of Jesus’ day, for Jesus was quoting from Deut. 6:4-5. Loving God with your complete being is the greatest of all the commandments which God has given us. In fact, all other commandments relating to God directly point to this supreme commandment. Even the first four of the Ten Commandments, which relate to one’s relationship to God, all reflect love for God. Analyze this great command:
It is not optional—it is a command, the greatest command.
It is not usual—it is exclusive, reserved for God alone.
It is not partial—it is complete, involving your total being.
It is not occasional—it is constant, encompassing all our time.
It is not merely emotional—it is volitional (a choice to make) and mental (a devotion to God in thought).
It is not merely verbal—it is demonstrated in action. Consider these evidences of love for God: worshiping Him only (Ex. 20:2-6), honoring His Name (Ex. 20:7), obeying His commandments (John 14:15, 21, 23), shepherding His sheep (John 21:15-17), and loving His people(I John 4:20-5:3).
Evaluate your obedience to this greatest commandment: do you give God the supreme love of your heart in all that you think, say, and do? Is your Christian life a love relationship with the living God, or has it degenerated into merely obeying a set of rules, a list of dos and don’ts? Remember: there must be no love in your life great-er than your love for God. Which idols in your life need to be removed to give God supreme love and devotion?
The second commandment: who do you love more than yourself?
Jesus added a second commandment which is greater than other commandments: “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Matt. 22:39). This commandment is also grounded in the Old Testa-ment (Lev. 19:18). When you love your neighbor, you do what is beneficial and best for him. You do him no harm. The last six of the Ten Commandments are fulfilled when you love your neighbor (Rom. 13:8-10). Who is your neighbor? Jesus illustrated in the parable of the Good Samaritan that your neighbor is anyone whose need you see, whose need you are in a position to meet (Luke 10:25-37). You should love your neighbor as you already love yourself, putting his needs, welfare, and interests before your own (Eph. 5:28-29; Phil. 2:3-4). Think of how far-reaching this command is:
It is expected of every believer (Matt. 22:39; Rom. 13:8).
It is not exclusive to any group (Luke 10:25-37; Mark 5:43-44; Jas. 2:8-9).
It is expressed in many ways (Luke 10:29-37; Rom. 13:9-10; Gal. 5:13-15; Jas. 2:8).
In order to fulfill this second commandment, you must not make yourself the focus of your love, but instead place it on others. In what specific ways do you need to regard and treat others as better than yourself?
Obeying these two greatest commandments centers on love: love for God and love for others. It must be His love flowing through you. How well are you doing in obeying these commandments?
Because of His Grace—Pastor Charlie