The Greatest Commandment by Scarlett Stough

The religious leaders of Jesus' time were always trying to trip him up. They would come up with a question which they thought would divide his followers or get him in trouble with the Romans. Jesus knew what their intent was, and he knew what was in their hearts—and it wasn't "love". So when they asked him to say what he thought the greatest commandment was, he went right to the heart of their distorted theology by quoting from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18:

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."
Matthew 22:37-40

You can read more about their distorted theology in Matthew Chapter 23. Jesus rebuked them because they had "neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness" (Matthew 23:23).

Lest we pat ourselves on the back and think we can't fall into the same hypocritical attitudes of thinking our religious activities make us righteous, we need to examine ourselves, looking within for the same sin of practicing a loveless religion.

Love has a bad reputation in this world. Isn't there an old rock song that says "love hurts"? God says "love does no harm." Our definition of love in our own day must differ quite a bit from God's. In a sense, love not returned does hurt as God is grieved when we do not return his love.

But love given is not supposed to do harm; sometimes a loving action intended for good in the long term can hurt. We discipline our children when they need a reminder their bad conduct has consequences. We take them to have injuries treated; the treatment can hurt in the short term, but result in healing in the long term. We all understand that. We certainly want the treatment to result in healing, not further damage.

Love toward God involves being obedient to his commands (1 John 5:1-5; John 15:9-13). The problem does not lie in the commands, but in how we interpret those commandments and how we apply them to how we live and what we teach.

The teachings of the religious leaders of Jesus' time prevented people from the salvation God offers (Matthew 23:15). Jesus warned his disciples, "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea" (Matthew 18:6).

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:9-11

May Paul's prayer to the church at Philippi be fulfilled in our lives so our love will increase as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus (2 Peter 3:18).


Volume 16 Issue 05 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation | Book Review |


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