“…‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Jesus was asked by a teacher of the law which commandment was the greatest.
They had been debating and Jesus was very good in His answers. So when asked this question, He responds by quoting one of the pillar prayers of the Hebrew people – the Shema Yisrael. “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all you strength…” Then He points out that loving your neighbor as yourself is the second most important commandment.
The teacher didn’t ask which was the second most important, but Jesus tell him anyway. Could it be that the teachers of Jesus’ day needed that reminder as well? Perhaps we still require this kind of reminder. These two commandments are just as true today as they were in Jesus’ day! When we love God with EVERYTHING we are and with EVERYTHING we have, we can begin to love those around us like we love ourselves. Isn’t it interesting that without love for God in such a holistic way, the love for others falls apart?
We see this all the time though don’t we? There is a lot of hate in our world today. Wouldn’t it be amazing to worship and adore God so much that we naturally love our neighbors around us? What an amazing world we would live in if we respected and loved one another because our first love was God. Even the people of Jesus’ day questioned who their neighbors were. In Luke, right after Jesus repeats the Shema Yisrael and speaks of loving our neighbor, one of the teachers asks “who is my neighbor?” You can almost hear the wheels churning in this man’s mind. Can we pick and choose who our neighbor is? Does my neighbor look like me, have the same interest as me, perhaps have the same skin color as me? Is “my neighbor” those I choose to associate myself with? The answer is NO! Jesus takes it a step further and tells them the parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate our neighbor is more than people who look like us, talk like us, and have the same interests or cultural practices.
Loving God with all of our being broadens the world around us.
Loving God opens the doors to loving a broader sense of who our neighbor is.
So let me ask you, who is your neighbor that requires your love and kindness?
Prayer: Lord help me today to see the bigger picture in this world. I want to love you with every fiber of my being and every ounce of breath in my lungs. Teach me to love others, beyond my comfort zone and my own prejudices. Help me to show Christ in my words and my deeds today. Let Your love in my life be evident to all and my I bring glory and honor to you. In Your name I pray these things. -Amen.