The First Commandment
When someone asked Jesus “what is the greatest commandment” Jesus replied “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” This commandment was very different than the focus of the religious leaders of the time. Pharisees and the religious elite focused on the rules and regulations of the law. They would “tithe” off of their trees by picking off every tenth leaf and make other impractical outward gestures to prove their obedience to God’s law. The Bible says that man looks on the outside, but God looks at the heart. Those who benefited or found status in the religious structure were happy to focus on the outward appearance of the law. Their ability to fulfill and walk in line with the commandments of God that were easy to quantify and see gave them power and prestige in Jewish society.
It is easy to fall into this mindset in current church culture. When looking at the Bible as a rulebook, it is easy to judge fellow Christians and create a hierarchy based on past or present mistakes, what is currently considered acceptable or unacceptable “Christian” behavior, or even physical appearance or perceived financial success. Jesus’ answer was not a ‘checkbox’ commandment. It is not a commandment that can be easily gauged. There is no outward zero to one hundred scale on our love of God. Sometimes children in an effort to somehow describe their amount of love will stretch out their arms as wide as they can and declare “I love you THIS much!” Love is hard to measure, but it is proven through action. Love is a powerful force that travels between two people. It occurs only in relationship.
God’s greatest commandment can only begin as the believer begins to speak to God and begins to understand God’s presence in his or her life. As the presence of God invades the believer’s life, the Bible takes new life. The knowledge of God’s goodness and forgiveness through His son Jesus Christ grows. As you spend time speaking to God today, may all outward measures of spirituality or goodness fade away and may His presence become tangible to you and may your love of God grow to new depths!
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