This week’s devotions are based on Sunday’s message: Love God Love People (LISTEN HERE)
Matthew 22:35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The question was, “Which was the greatest commandment in the Law?”
To be the greatest, there has to be nothing above it. I would venture to propose that not only is it the greatest today, but will remain the greatest. To be the greatest, there must be no “asterisks” next to the claim. It can’t be the greatest with qualifications. It must stand on its own and by itself as the greatest.
To ensure that Jesus had “nailed” the answer, he ended his statement with, “All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
ALL the Law. ALL the prophets.
This means that if we read through the pages of Scripture we cannot or will not find any greater command than Jesus just iterated. We will find no exceptions, but rather complete congruency with the statement Jesus makes.
In a brief devotion, we don’t have the time to peruse all of the pages of the “Law and Prophets,” but permit just a few examples from each to give credibility to Jesus’ claim.
Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Malachi 3:6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
Micah 6:7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
When one considers all the Old Testament (and New for that matter), it might seem overwhelming first to KNOW what all is in there and then to KEEP what all is in there. By giving us the greatest and second greatest commands to “Love God and Love people” Jesus not only makes it easy to understand, but gives us simple guidance of what it looks like to live as a loved, forgiven child of God.
We don’t have a list of over 600. We don’t even have a list of 10. We have a list of two: Love God and Love people.
And these two are what give life great joy and blessing!
1 John 5:2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
Apply: How does your day change and move closer to the Lord by asking as you interact, “Does this show love for God or love for people? If so I will do it…if not, I won’t.”
Prayer: Lord, thank you for simplifying your commands into two. I know I will need your ever present forgiveness because I will struggle to keep these two. I also thank you for simplifying the guidance to enjoy the blessings that come when one, by your Spirit’s help, loves you and loves others. AMEN.