Through the Bible in One Year

Day 34

Matthew 22:34-40

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

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.”

Yesterday we saw that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day tried to entrap him in two ways.  They first tried to entrap him by getting him to tell the people to commit treason against Rome, in other words defy the God ordained government of the day.  The second way they tried to entrap him was to get him to agree with those religious leaders who believed there was not going to be a resurrection of the dead.  In both instances Jesus’ answers to these questions meant to entrap him were so different then what everybody expected they went away astonished at his teaching.  And today we see the religious leaders of Jesus’ day try one more time to entrap him.  But this time they come at him from a different angle.  This time they ask him which one of the many “commands” in the law that they have added on top of God’s Law is the greatest.  Jesus responds to this pointed question in this way, “‘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 23:37-40)

Jesus’ response contains a combination of all four aspects of the human personality (heart, soul, strength and mind).  The primary thing God asks of anyone who truly believes in Christ and receives his spiritual salvation is a devoted that is expressed with one’s entire being.

Loving God “with all your heart” means that he is the source and object of your greatest desires and passions; the core of your affections must be centered on him.  It means that you are completely faithful and devoted to God and that his purposes direct every area of your life.  Loving God in this way requires a willingness to do anything for him.  Our love for God must a life-directing love, inspired by his love for us—a love that caused him to give his Son for our sake.

Loving God “with all your soul” has to do with your deepest longings, emotions and convictions, which must be focused on Christ and bring honor to him.  The soul could be described as the core of who you are—the real you—meaning that your identity is completely one with that of Christ.

Loving God “with all your mind” shows that serving him is not just a matter of feelings or emotion.  It is a deliberate act of your will.  It means serving God with your intellect and seeking to please him with thoughts, ideas and decisions based on his Word.  Loving God with your mind requires doing what you know is right beyond how you feel or what rejection you might face from the world.

Loving God “with all your strength” means that your best energies and efforts go into serving God and promoting his purposes.  It also means that you are willing to persevere in your faith when circumstances are challenging or even physically exhausting.  At times, loving God may involve tough choices and a willingness to share the pain of obedience as he did.  Our love is to be the kind of love expressed in Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 9:15; Ephesians 4:30; Ephesians 5:1-2 and Colossians 3:12-17.

Christians are required to love all people, including their enemies.  But they are also commanded to love all true followers of God in a special way.  Christians’ love for our spiritual brothers and sister in faith, their neighbors (all those around us and anyone we may encounter) and our enemies must flow from our primary love and devotion for God.  Love for God is the “first and greatest commandment”.  For this reason, God’s holiness, his purposes and the standards he revealed in his Word must never be compromised in our efforts to show love for people.  In other words, love for God must come first, and nothing we do to demonstrate love to others should compromise our devotion to God.  If we love God completely and love others unselfishly, then all of our attitudes and actions will end aligning with all of the commands, instructions, guidelines and standards of God’s Word.  And we will discuss God’s primary standards and guidelines and Jesus’ anger at the religious leaders of his day for adding to them tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:

Exodus 19:16-21:21, Matthew 23:13-39, Psalm 28:1-9 and Proverbs 7:1-5

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