The Pharisees heard that the Sadducees weren’t able to answer Jesus. So the Pharisees got together. One of them was an authority on the law. So he tested Jesus with a question. “Teacher,” he asked, “which is the most important commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied, ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind.’ (Deuteronomy 6:5) This is the first and most important commandment. And the second is like it. ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ (Leviticus 19:18) Everything that is written in the Law and the Prophets is based on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:34-46
What would you say is the most important law in America? Maybe the no stealing law? It wouldn’t be much fun if someone could just walk up to me at Panera and snatch my iPad without any repercussions. But I would have to go with the obvious one – no murdering. I’m glad we have a law like that on the books.
Jesus says the greatest commandment in the Law (that is, the Law based in the Jewish Torah) is to love God with everything in you. At first, this seems odd. Murder, theft, speeding, extortion – these are all outward things that can be proved. You can fantasize about stealing my iPad all you want. You won’t get in trouble until you do it. But loving God? There’s no real way to know if anyone is doing that. Or is there?
The second greatest command is to love your neighbor as yourself. Maybe our success with this command is tied into how well we do with the first. God doesn’t NEED our love. The first command isn’t about appeasing an insecure god. And we will never, ever be able to obey the first command perfectly. On most days I’m not even thinking about obeying it. That’s why I need the grace of Jesus. But, here’s why I think it’s so important: Perhaps God knows that the more connected we are with Him, the more His love will flow through us. And that’s the only way we will get anywhere close to living out the second command.