Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)
Read: Matthew 22:34-46
Consider: The Sadducees hadn’t had any luck in trapping Jesus when they asked him a theoretical question about the resurrection and marriage. This is interesting because we learn that the Sadducees ‘… say there is no resurrection …’ (Matthew 22:23), so it is clear that their only reason for putting the question to Jesus was to trap him. Jesus didn’t mince his words when he replied: You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God (22:29).
The incident we read about in today’s passage follows on from Jesus’ discussion with the Sadducees. As Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together to test Jesus. The question put to him by an expert in the law was: Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? (22:36). Jesus answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (22:37). This is slightly different to what is written in Deuteronomy 6:5 – ‘… with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength’. When Jesus uses the words ‘heart’, ‘soul’ and ‘mind’ he indicates that our love for God should be with our whole being. I like the way Deuteronomy uses the word ‘strength’, as it gives the impression of someone channeling all their energies towards focussing on God.
Although Jesus answered the expert in the law’s question, he then adds the additional detail: And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself” (22:39). A similar response to a question recorded in Luke’s gospel, led to another expert in the law asking Jesus ‘… who is my neighbour?’ (Luke 10:29). Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan to illustrate who should be considered as a neighbour. Jesus wanted those who loved God and followed him to demonstrate love for others in their actions. This is summed up in something Jesus said that is recorded in Matthew 7:12 – So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12).
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
We constantly need to examine ourselves to see if our love for God and others matches these demanding standards. It is not a case of us seeking to win God’s favour through works, but allowing God’s grace to be channeled through us to others.
Pray: Father, keep us from false love that seeks only to win favour. May our love for you be an indication that our whole being (heart, soul and mind) is dedicated to you. May our love for others be an expression of the love you have shown us in Jesus Christ. Amen