36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Sometimes, we find it easy to forget Jesus’ words in the Great Commandment. Other times, we convince ourselves we are doing just fine at part one (loving God) and choose to forget about part two (loving other people). The reality is that these two commandments are so important that the whole law and the prophets hang on them.
Do we love God? And do we love other people? If we’re honest with ourselves, then we will see that we continually wrong God by not loving Him and not loving other people. As humans we are sinful, but in the power of God’s Holy Spirit, we can be transformed and made alive out of spiritual death. Through God’s Spirit, we can be made more like Christ and love God and other people more.
Loving God is a privilege, as is loving the people He has made, all of whom bear His image. To have a Father, who is good to us and kind and loves us more than we can comprehend, a Father who would give His only begotten Son for us, a Father who wants to deeply know us, is an enormous blessing. To be allowed into relationship with this loving, holy and good Father and to give our lives to Him for His service is a wonderful privilege. How gracious it is that God would grant us the joy of being in loving relationship with Him, at the ultimate cost of Jesus’ death. There is no other appropriate response, but to love God with all our heart, soul and mind.
It’s important to remember that Jesus gave the second command here, noting that it is like the first. This command is to love our neighbours as ourselves. That is also a great privilege – the ability to see how God has made all of us in His image and calls us to love everyone. If you find it hard to love other people, then remember that God has made them in His image and that the whole of the law and the prophets rest on love for God and love for neighbours. Some people find it hard to love themselves, if that’s you, then find encouragement in Jesus’ words to love your neighbours as yourself – God has made you in His image and you are valuable.
As with loving God with all our heart, soul and mind, loving our neighbours as ourselves is an amazing gift that God has given to humanity. We often think of commands as merely a checklist of things that we have to do, or just arbitrary rules imposed on us that we have to abide by. But that is not how God’s commands work at all! God’s commands are wonderful gifts to us that invite us into loving relationships, firstly with God and secondly with humans, who all bear his image.
Fix your eyes on this enormous love God has shown in giving His only begotten Son Jesus and allowing us to be in relationship with Him and the people on earth. Loving God and loving people is not a chore; it’s a gift. And when rightly understood, these great commands fill us with joy, as we get to be in loving relationships, all because of God’s great love.