Deuteronomy 6:2-6; Psalm 18:1-4, 47, 51; Hebrews 7:23-28;Mark 12:28-34
“Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this… . The second is this.” (Mark 12:28-31)
Love God and love your neighbor. The wisdom of these words may not strike us with the freshness that they would have conveyed to Jesus’ audience. The idea that the first and greatest command is to love God with all our hearts and souls wasn’t a new thought. It’s recorded in a much older reading in the Hebrew Scriptures (Deuteronomy 6:5). But the idea that loving one another is just as important was much more groundbreaking.
Jesus considered these two commands bound so closely together that he taught that if someone is offering a gift at the altar—loving God— and remembers that his brother has something against him, he must leave his gift and go love his brother first (Matthew 5:23-24). And John could write: “Whoever does not love a brother and sister, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20).
There’s something about loving God with our whole hearts that naturally flows into loving other people. Perhaps it is because God has created us in his own image. There’s a picture of him, a treasure from him, in each of us. So when we see each other, we are seeing a reflection of the Lord. Or maybe it’s because God loves each of us with such fierce devotion that for us not to share that love with each other would be an offense to him. Or maybe it’s both!
In the end, it doesn’t matter which approach is best. What matters is that you do something about it! God has called us to love each other just as fully as we love him. That’s not always an easy task, and some people seem determined to make it even harder for us. But our Father is ready to help. He is waiting for us to take the first step. Then he will respond with divine grace to soften our hearts.
“Lord, show me the treasures you have placed in all the people around me—especially those I find hardest to love!”~WAU