“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36-40.
The Pharisees were the keepers of scripture and Biblical law. One of them asked Jesus this question, “which is the most important commandment?” Basically, they wanted Jesus to mentally sift through over 600 laws and distill them down to one. That would be similar to you deciding which Florida law is most important out of the countless laws on the books.
Jesus broke the law down into two commandments from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 when put together they read; “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind … you must love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus was simply saying that if we truly loved God and our neighbor then we would naturally keep all the other commandments.
To become a person who consistently loves others, you first need to be a loving person. To truly love, we must first know God. Love starts with God and ends with God because God is love. We see this in 1 John 4: 7-8 when he writes: “ Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
There is not one person Jesus does not love and did not come to save – this includes everyone you lock eyes with, walk past on the street, hear about in the news, live next door to, stand behind in line at the grocery store, or sit next to in the theater. When we actively love those around us, putting their needs before our own, we are displaying the same amazing love that Jesus has poured out to us.
It is easy to believe love is just a nice, heart-warming feeling. But as Christians, we are called for it to be more than that – we are called to take action. We can share God’s love by noticing the unnoticed, loving the unlovely, by extending grace to those who are not so easy to be around.
When we look at how to love others, scripture offers plenty of insight. Romans 12:9-10,13-16 (MSG), gives us great examples of love in action: “Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle… Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.”
All God does is out of love. He loves perfectly. Our goal is to love as God loves. Love isn’t something that is derived from within us. For the kind of love that God calls us to – the love that loves our neighbor as much as we love ourselves – must come from Him.
- What does it mean to you when the Bible says to love others?
- What can we do this week to be better at loving others?