The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

March 2, 2013

Instant Message: The Greatest Commandment

Palestine Herald-Press

PALESTINE — Matthew 22: 34-40 (NIV): 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."

The bottom line of our faith is love. Everything hinges on it. We live in a circle of love: God loves us, we love each other, and we love him. Our faith is not about do's and don'ts, its about relationships. It's about loving each other and loving God, who loves us.

Jesus was answering a question in this passage: which commandment is the greatest. His answer basically covered them all: love God, love each other. If we can get this down, we've got it. We are fulfilling God's design for us and following his law.

But what does it mean to love God? Is God commanding us to feel strongly for him - to like him a lot? No, our feelings must be voluntary. He wants us to delight in him (Psalm 37:4), but that is up to us.

Love is more than feelings, it is a verb, an act of will. We love God by giving him our undivided allegiance — "all your heart"; our unending devotion — "all your soul"; and our unconditional trust -  "all your mind". Your heart is your loyalty, your soul is the essence of who you are, and your mind is your conscious thought processes.

    So God wants first place in our lives. How do we prove we love God? By loving each other, whom we have seen (1 John 4:20). Paul tells us how to do this in 1 Corinthians 13. God is love, God loves us, and God commands that we love him and each other. Our faith is all about love.