THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT

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 second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” – Matthew 22:37–40 (NIV).

 

INTRODUCTION

A commandment is something that is commanded – an authoritative direction or instruction to do something.  Commandments are also set rules that are used as boundaries for which things are to be observed and done. In the same way, God uses commandments as boundaries for His children to live with wisdom, integrity and purity in a sin-filled world.  When we obey God’s commandments, we experience His blessings and are given power to overcome sin.  The relationship that should exist between God and His children therefore implies that we live under His authority and obey His commandments.  To do anything else is to deny the Sovereignty and Fatherhood of our loving God.      

 

PHARISEES AND GOD’S COMMANDMENT

During the time of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth, the religious leaders called Pharisees had added several of their own laws to the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20. They had put together 613 commandments as the authoritative instructions to be obeyed.  Alas, their traditions, interpretations and applications of the laws had become as important to them as God’s law itself.  Their laws were not all bad.  Some were beneficial but the problem was that the religious leaders:

 

  • took their man-made rules as seriously as God’s laws;
  • told the people to obey these rules but did not do so themselves; or
  • obeyed the rules not to honour God but to make themselves look good.

 

Jesus was very scathing about their hypocrisy as we read in Matt. 23:1-2Then Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples:  The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.  So you must obey them and do everything they tell you.  But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” (NIV)

 

THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT

The Pharisees had tried on many occasions to trap Jesus without success and on one such occasion, one of them, considered to be “an expert in the law” asked Jesus about what the greatest commandment was – Matthew 22:34-36.  Jesus answered thus, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments” Matthew 22:37–40. The Lord’s response shut the mouths of His critics, and none of them dared to question Him anymore.

 

Jesus answered that the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This response would likely have gone down well since it came directly from Deuteronomy 6:4–5.  However, it was what the Lord said next that silenced His critics. He proclaimed, “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:39–40 (NIV)

 

LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD

Jesus answer in the passage above contains a combination of all four aspects of the human personality mentioned in Deut. 6:5Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  The primary thing God asks of anyone who truly believes in Christ and receives His spiritual salvation is devoted love that is expressed with one’s entire being.

 

  • Loving God “with all your heart” means that we recognize that He is the source and object of our greatest desires and passions and the core of our affections must therefore be centered on Him. It means that we are completely faithful and devoted to God and that His purposes direct every area of our lives.  Loving God in this way requires a willingness to do anything for Him.  Our lives for God must be a life-directing love, inspired by His love for us – a love that caused Him to give His Son for our sake – “For God so loved the world the He gave His One and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” – John 3:16 (NIV)

 

  • Loving God “with all your soul” has to do with our deepest longings, emotions and convictions, which must be focused on Christ and bring honour to Him – Matthew 6:9-10; 33. The soul could be described as the core of who we are – the real we – meaning that our identity is completely one with that of Christ.

 

  • Loving God “with all your mind” shows that serving the Lord is not just a matter of feelings or emotion but a deliberate act of our will. This requires that we serve God with our intellect and seek to please Him with thoughts, ideas, and decisions based on His Word.  Loving God with our mind means doing what we know is right, never mind how we feel or what rejection we might face from the world.

 

  • Loving God “with all your strength” means that our best energies and efforts go into serving God and promoting His purposes as we read in 1 Cor. 9:23 “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” – NIV. It also means that we are willing to persevere in our faith when circumstances are challenging or even physically exhausting.  At time, loving God may involve tough choices and willingness to share the pain of obedience as He did – I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.” – Phil. 3:10.  Our love is to be the kind of love expressed in 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.

 

ULTIMATE COMMANDMENTS

Jesus gives us two commandments that summarize all the laws and commands in Scripture.  God gave (and still gives) His people commandments that deal with our relationship with Him and then our relationship with other people.  These are termed The Ten Commandments and are found in Exodus 20.  One naturally flows out of the other. Without a right relationship with God, our relationships with others will not be right, either. The cause of the world’s problems is that we need to be reconciled to God. We will never love our neighbour as ourselves if we do not first love God with all our heart, mind, and soul. All of our best efforts toward world peace will fail as long as we are living in rebellion against God.

When carefully considered, Jesus’ answer was really a perfect response not only to the Pharisee but also to all modern-day “Pharisees” who try to measure a person’s righteousness by how well he conforms outwardly to a series of laws or commandments. Both the Pharisees of Christ’s day and today’s many versions create a whole system of rules and regulations for people to live by and yet are guilty of breaking the most important commandments of all because theirs is to draw attention to themselves as the cream of the society.
RESPOND TO JESUS

When we prayerfully consider Jesus’ words and the fact that all the laws and commands in Scripture can really be summarized by these two commandments, we understand just how impossible it is for us to keep God’s commandments and how often we fail to do so and can therefore never be righteous before God on our own accord. This only leaves us with one hope, and this is that God “justifies the ungodly”Romans 4:5. God’s law and our failure to keep it “brings about wrath” – Romans 4:15, but “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While  we were still sinners, Christ died for us” – Romans 5:8 (NIV).

While we will never keep God’s commandments or be righteous before Him by our own efforts, Christ did. It is His sacrificial death on the cross that causes our sins to be imputed to Him and His righteousness imputed to us as we read in Romans chapters 4 and 5. That is why the Bible says: “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” Romans 10:9–10. After all, the gospel of Christ “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes,” for “the just shall live by faith” – Romans 1:16-17       
TO PONDER
–   What a magnificent summary of the Law. Think about the Ten Commandments. The first four

deal with our relationship to God, which is why we are to love Him with all our heart, soul,

and mind. The final six deal with loving our neighbour. That is why Jesus does not say we

need to learn to love ourselves. Rather He instructs us to love others as we already love

ourselves.

 

 

–   Dear reader, let me ask you this question?  Do you live according to these commandments?

Do you truly love God with all your heart, all our soul, and all your mind, and do you really

love your neighbour as yourselves? If you are truthful with yourselves, you will know that you

do not, but the good news is that the law and commandments were given as “…….our

    guardian until Christ came, it protected us until we could be made right with God through

    faith.” – Galatians 3:24. (NLT) Only as we realize our sinfulness and hopelessness will we turn

to Christ alone as the only hope of salvation.

Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble. They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. – Proverbs 4:14-17

Stay blessed!

For further inquiries please contact us on Tel Nos. 0302-772013 or 0268130615

Email: saltnlightministries@gmail.com
Website:
saltandlightministriesgh.org

 

 

 

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