“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.
In Matthew 22, we find Jesus engaged in a conversation with a Pharisee, an expert in the Law. He asked Jesus, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” “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. And the second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
God calls us to love Him with all that we are and have—heart, soul, and mind. This is more than a feeling, an act of willpower or a decision. If we love only with feeling, it will inevitably have peaks and valleys, fluctuating with what is going on in our lives. But when we make an intentional decision to love, when we commit to love God above all else, that love is woven into our DNA as a person. So when trouble arrives, we know what to do.
David loved God with this kind of love and, in the midst of running for his life, David poured his love out in prayer: “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.” (Psalm 63:1-4).
The second part of the greatest commandment is to ‘Love your neighbor as yourself‘” (Matthew 22:39) 1 John 4:19-21 says: “If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer,[b] that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.”
Loving God empowers us to love other people. The focus on love helps us not to settle for a casual concern for neighbors, but to reach out to them.
- What do you think it means to love God with all of your heart? How about loving God with all of your soul? What about with all of your mind?
- What happens if you obey the greatest commandment—love God with all your heart, soul, and mind—without obeying the second greatest commandment—love your neighbor as yourself?