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Matthew 22: Love God, Love Your Neighbor

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Reading: Matthew 22

Text
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 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." (Matthew 22:34-39 NIV)

Thinking and Reflecting
Boil it down to the simplest version possible. What do you get? Jesus said the entirety of the (Old Testament) law and prophets hinged on two great commandments: Love God, love your neighbor. Yes, the question was designed as a trick question, but the answer was accurate. The words are easy. Many can quote a fairly accurate version of Jesus' response. But consider more carefully what Jesus says. Love for God must be entire and complete: all your heart, all your soul, all your mind. Loving neighbor to extent Jesus describes is not all that easy: as we love ourselves.
These are #1 and #2. The order is essential. Number One is our pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in a field. Christianity is a treasure hunt. We are on a treasure hunt. To understand and practice this kind of love for God, seeing him and responding to him, is our #1 priority. Number Two is a lot easier when #1 is in place. Loving others, serving others, giving self for others, caring for others-these are empowered by God's love and presence within us.

Have you seen the nature of the Christian life more as a treasure hunt or as a rescue mission? If our #1 task is finding and loving God, how does this change the way you live life from day to day? What can you do today to express more clearly or openly your love for God? What can you do today to express more clearly your love for your neighbor or fellow human beings? Pray about the commitment you wish to make to these two commandments.

Prayer
Father God, we love you and adore you, and want to hold back nothing of our being. My heart, mind, body, and very being are yours. Help me understand more completely the obedient love that pleases you. Help me love the unlovable ones around me, recognizing that I am not all that lovable at times. Thank you for the love you demonstrated in the gift of Jesus. I love you because you have loved me. Teach me your ways. In Jesus' name and by his power I ask it. Amen.


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Last updated October 13, 2011