DATE WRITTEN: Sunday, 2021-03-21
WRITTEN AT: Okeechobee, FL
BIBLE REFERENCE: Matthew 22:36-40
TRANSLATION: The Voice (VOICE)
Pharisees: 36 Teacher, of all the laws, which commandment is the greatest?Jesus (quoting Scripture): 37 “Love the Eternal One your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.”[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is nearly as important, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[d] 40 The rest of the law, and all the teachings of the prophets, are but variations on these themes.
OBSERVATION: Although the Pharisees were trying to test Jesus, they asked a very logical question. Jesus’ response is still applicable to us today, so let’s see how we’re doing with the two commandments Jesus considered most important.
APPLICATION: It seems natural for us to worry more about the most important laws, or the most critical infractions we want to avoid. Take speeding for example: In the US we know that we could get away with doing no more than 5 miles over the speed limit, so we will often break the law, but by no more than 5mph, so we don’t get a ticket. Isn’t it the same with God’s laws? It seems ok to take a few pencils or paperclips home from work, but not $100, even though both are stealing. It seems OK to tell a lie, but we wouldn’t ever consider murder, although both are sins. Notice how Jesus set an example for us in quoting Scripture when responding to questions from those trying to test us. He did it to Satan when tempted by him in the desert, and he responds similarly now to the Pharisees. Why is that? Personal opinions are dime a dozen, for everyone has at least one! However, when we quote ‘thus says the Lord’, we are allowing God’s Word to answer why we believe the way we do. I found it interesting that Jesus chose not only the two commandments that epitomize God’s love and His wish for His children, but also the two commandments that all others are based on. In other words, if we get these two right, and if we exceed expectations in response to these two, then no one should have reason to judge us of missing the mark with the other commandments. To love the Lord: With all our heart – is to devote the very core of our being (our heart) to loving our Creator and our Lord; With all our soul – is to love God from the deepest parts of our being, knowing that no one deserves our love more than He does; With all our mind – is to know that our love for God is unconditional, meaning that we will love Him no matter what is going on in life, because our mind is fixed on Him. On the second most important commandment, Jesus tells us that it is equally important as the first, for a child of God who loves His Maker, will also love all that He made. To dislike our neighbor is like saying that God messed up in creating them. Of course they will be different to us in many ways, but in loving them, we soon learn to love the variety of people and things that God created. This widens our spectrum of appreciation for our Creative God. As we love our (different) neighbor, we become better prepared to approach nonbelievers who need Jesus. Remember, God made them, so we should love them! Please note that this is not just a nice story about God getting on to the Pharisees. I believe that He is still saying the same thing to you and I today: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind – and your neighbor as you love yourself; for this is God’s greatest wish for you today!
PRAYER: Each day that I read Your Word, I am looking for what’s most important for me that day, from my gracious God. Thank You Lord, for making it plain to me today that I am to love You above everything else, and that I am to love my friends, my relatives and my neighbors as much as I love myself. Lord, please teach my readers and I to love like You love us each and every day. For others need to see Jesus – Your love, Your mercy and Your gracious concern for everyone. They need to see You, and not the wickedness of our earthly beings. May others see You and believe. AMEN!
FOOTNOTE: There are two more pages on my blog that will provide you with additional information, one of them being ‘To Know Jesus’. If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please click on the above page, or speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Please allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog might indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to Nuggets From God’s Word and read more, or you may freely subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. I would encourage you to find a church home near by your home, and attend as frequently as you could. Get to know God, and allow His people to encourage and strengthen you in your Christian walk, while making every effort to be a blessing to them. God is at work among His people! Please consider growing in your faith, as you worship with fellow believers!