The Greatest Commandment
Love the Lord your God…
Multiple times in the gospels Jesus is asked which is the greatest commandment or He is discussing the greatest commandment with someone. Without fail the two that are mentioned are “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This should be no surprise to anyone who has read the first four books of the New Testament. The complexity of the commands, however, is usually missed. We read over the list and try and love God and be nice to people. If that is the extent of our effort to follow the greatest commandments we have gravely underestimated the weight of these commands.
Let us first look at the first command, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” If we were to examine the depth of the four areas with which we are to love God, we would find that there is not a single aspect of ourselves that should ever cease to show love to God. Every action, thought, personality trait, and emotion should at all times be showing our love for God. There is nothing that we possess that is reserved for ourselves. All of who we are is to be submitted to God. I would venture to say that few of us at first glance would interpret such depth into that one command, but that is the truth of what it is to love God. There is nothing in us that should show love to anything other than Christ.
As we reserve ourselves for loving God and nothing else, we cannot help but love others in the process. Interwoven in the holiness of God is a loving nature of giving grace to those who don’t deserve it (you and me). As we surrender our entire being to God in loving him with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength, the Lord builds in us a desire to love His creation as He loves them.
Now, if you’re like me, you will wrestle with a very natural question once we grasp how difficult the first commandment is. How can we really love God with all that we are? It is impossible to think that every thought, emotion, or motivation has to show love to God. Just this morning I was driving on the road and was cut off by an eighteen-wheeler going about 45 miles per hour when the speed limit is 65. My reaction was frustration. I realized immediately that that reaction was not showing love for God. It seems that it is impossible to follow this command, much any of the others. And there we find the point of the law of God. They are impossible. Paul says in Romans 3 that through the law and commandments we become “conscious of sin” which means that when we try to be obedient to the law we begin to understand that we can never be obedient to it.
The law pushes us towards Christ. It is Christ in us that transforms us. The more we try to do it on our own, the more we fail and realize that it is impossible. We need a savior. When we seek to abide in Christ and allow His righteousness to become ours, we are changed. Every aspect of us is changed. Our heart is changed, our mind is changed, our soul is changed and our strength changes. All through what Christ has done. Push into Christ, that is the essence of the greatest commandment. Love y’all more than you know. Grace and peace,