One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one”, answered Jesus, “is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. Most people I know who set resolutions fail within the first few weeks. Instead of making a resolution, consider leaning into the lesson of today’s passage.
Today’s lesson is a tall order. Jesus’ response in verses 29 and 30 was quoted from Deuteronomy 6:4-5. God directed Moses to teach the Israelites His commands, decrees, and laws after they were set free from slavery and bondage in Egypt so that they would fear God and obey all of His commandments.
God’s commandments and decrees apply to us in 2019. Those who put their faith and hope in Jesus and trust Him for their salvation do not always live out the commandments in today’s lesson. Like the Israelites who continuously disobeyed God’s commandments, we too often fail. It is humanly impossible in our own strength to keep all of God’s commandments. Fortunately, God recognized this, so He came up with a solution for our disobedience/sin problem—Jesus.
In Luke 10, verses 25 through 37, Jesus taught a parable of the good Samaritan and what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. In the end, Jesus asked the question, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told the man, “Go and do likewise.”
In order to love our neighbor as ourselves we must first love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. The ways we do this include studying God’s Word, praying, serving others using the spiritual gifts God has given us, and sharing our testimony of how and what God has done in our own lives. We grow spiritually through our acts of obedience, especially during our trials and difficult circumstances. In doing so we are able to love others (even our enemies) in obedience to Christ. We honor God and receive His blessings in response to our obedience.
Thought of the day: Today’s lesson could be viewed as a resolution for all who call Jesus their Lord and Savior and have put their faith and hope in Him for their salvation from their sins. God designed us to have a close, personal relationship with Him in and through the person of Jesus. His open invitation for us to seek Him first and to be in continuous fellowship with Him is a choice. It is possible, only with the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in every person that has accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior, to obey God’s Greatest Commandment and to love your neighbor as yourself. Do you know Jesus? Are you making your relationship with Him your first and most important priority (Matthew 6:33), loving Him above all else and being consumed with the things of God for His glory? If not, will you commit in 2019 to live out His greatest commandments?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please give me a powerful sense of Your mission for my life. I love You and desire to love You with all my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength. I desire to be used by You through the power of your Holy Spirit that lives in me to love my neighbor as myself. Use me to influence others to meet, know, and follow Jesus. In Jesus’ name and for his glory, I pray. Amen.