But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Understanding And Applying the Text
The context of this passage is where the Jews were trying to trap Jesus in His own words. Matthew tells us this was another test.
Mark includes this story as well. (Mark 12:28-34). Mark’s account ends with the Lawyer understanding and agreeing with Jesus. Jesus then told him he was not far from the Kingdom of Heaven. So the conversation started with animosity. But it did not end that way.
A lawyer, in first-century Judaism, was one who was an expert in interpreting the Mosaic law. His question is a little strange. What is the greatest commandment? They were all important. Violation of anyone was a sin.
Jesus did not make up His answer. In other words this was not a new teaching. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:5. This is a summary of the law. We are to love God with all our hearts, soul, and mind. That is, with our entire being.
We divide the Law of God into two parts. We refer to them as the two tablets of the law. The first table deals with the worship of God. The second tablet deals with our interaction with others. Jesus’ response was the summary of the two tablets of the Law.
How do we love God? We love Him by keeping His commandments. (Exodus 20:6; Deuteronomy 5:10; 7:9; 11:1; John 14:15; 1 John 5:3)
We serve the creator of the universe,the creator of all things. That should bring powerful excitement to our worship. It is an honor and privilege to serve Him.
We are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. That means 100%. That means all the time. If we love God as we should there is no room for self-love.
We live in a culture that emphasizes the need for self-love. We turn in on ourselves. We put ourselves first, last and always. How is that working out for us? We have increasing crime. Violence is increasing. We have to watch our back at work. Because someone might stab is in the back. We live in fear that someone else’s self-love may harm us. We have to take care of number one. And of course, we are number one. Yeah that isn’t working very well. And we take that failure and double down on it. We try to love ourselves more.
True peace and contentment do not come not from self-love. It comes from loving God and others. We are to love God and others to the point there is no room for self-love. All the pop psychologists who claim otherwise are doing the work of Satan. Do not fall into their snare. We are to direct our love outward not inward.