The Most Important
(Mark 12.28-34; Luke 10.25-28)
34After Jesus had made the Sadducees look foolish, the Pharisees heard about it and got together. 35 One of them was an expert in the Jewish Law. So he tried to test Jesus by asking, 36“Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus answered:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. 38This is the first and most important commandment. 39 The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” 40All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments.
The foremost theme throughout the Bible is one of love. We see threads about God’s sacrificial love for sinful man woven throughout the Scriptures. But the theme of love also includes commands for us to love God and our fellow man.
The most important commandment in the central text of Judaism was this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.” Rabbis taught this, but the legalistic rules accompanying it overshadowed the spirit behind it.
In this passage, Jesus agrees that the most important commandment in the Law is to love God with our entire being. However, he implies that our love for the Father isn’t proven by obeying countless religious, manmade rules. It’s not demonstrated only by consistent church attendance or reciting fancy prayers. Rather, it’s demonstrated in our attitude and actions towards other people. “Love others as much as you love yourself,” he says.
Loving others is easy when they agree with us, treat us with respect, behave as we think is appropriate, look good, and smell nice. It’s not so easy when they gossip about us, cheat us, behave rudely, or smell like they nest in a garbage bin.
Our ability to love others – especially those who are difficult to love – flows from the depth of our love for God. Human tendency leans towards selfishness, looking out for one’s personal interests. If we truly love God, however, our behavior changes.
We no longer seek to serve ourselves; we seek to serve others even if it means personal sacrifice. We forgive those who hurt us, we care for those who cannot care for themselves, and we give our resources, time, and energy to help meet the needs of our fellow man.
Therein is our love for God perfected.
Dear Lord, thank you for showing us what matters most. Please teach me to love you with all my heart, soul, and mind. And teach me how to love others even when sacrifice is required. Demonstrate your perfect love through me so others can understand who you are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Grace Fox is a popular speaker who has authored twelve books. Together with her husband, she co-directs International Messengers Canada, a ministry that offers short term and career missionary opportunities in 31 countries and growing. Grace lives in Vancouver, BC. She’s been married to Gene Fox since 1982 and has three married children and eleven grandchildren. Publications: 10-Minute Time Outs for Moms, 10-Minute Time Outs for You and Your Kids, Peaceful Moments to Begin Your Day: Devotions for Busy Women, Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation;, Tuck-Me-In Talks With Your Little Ones