Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind
Matthew 22:34-23:12 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. 35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question: 42 “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?” They said to Him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying,
44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand,
Until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet”’?
45 If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” 46 No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question.
23 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3 therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. 4 They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. 5 But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. 6 They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. 8 But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11 But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
In today’s text it says: When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Everything we believe and everything we do, concerning our faith, depends first on our loving God with our whole heart, soul and mind. We need to know both what that means and then recognize that it is a commandment, not simply a good idea. In Exodus 20:2-7 God says: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” It is not only worshipping other gods, but it is putting anything at all before God. In Matthew 6:24 Jesus says: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” What does it mean though that we are to love Him with our whole heart, soul and mind? It is more then than just what we do. It is also what we think and what we feel. In 1 Samuel 16:7 God says: “God does not see as man sees, since man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 says: We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. If we truly love God, then everything we do, everything we say and everything we feel depends on that love. 1 John 4:19 says: We love, because He first loved us. Not only does our love for Him flow from our response to His love for us, but our ability and our capacity to truly love at all is because of His love. Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God doesn’t demonstrate His love with flowers and hearts, but rather with the sacrifice of Christ, His Son, dying on the cross so that we could be redeemed from sin and reconciled to God. It is through the lens of Christ’s suffering that our love is measured. How could we continue to say, think and do the very things that caused His suffering?
Jesus says: “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Our love for others then is also a response to God’s love demonstrated in the cross. In Luke 23:34, when He was on the cross, Jesus said: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” We too should forgive others as Jesus forgave us. God’s love for us does not tolerate or embrace our sin. Rather, because of God’s love, Jesus embraced the Father’s will and the cross. He tolerated the nails in His hands and feet. Jesus tolerated the agony of crucifixion because of God’s love. If we love others as ourselves, then it is in response to God’s love for us and for them that we love them. Love wants the best for others. The best that anyone can have and know is that while they were yet sinners, Christ died for them.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 describes true love: Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 1 John 4:8 says: The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God is love. You can substitute God for the word love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: God is patient, God is kind and is not jealous; God does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; He does not seek His own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. God never fails. The test of whether we truly love God with our whole heart, soul and mind is if we can substitute our own name for love.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, may it be that I can truly say: I am patient, I am kind and not jealous; I do not brag and am not arrogant, I do not act unbecomingly; I do not seek my own, I’m not provoked, do not take into account a wrong suffered, I do not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoice with the truth; I bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things. My love never fails, because of Your unfailing love. Amen.