The Great Commandment
We have four weeks left to wrap up our series on Matthew. This is week 11. I know I am skipping quite a bit but I want to finish this series up on Easter. Today, I’m going to look at the great commandment. Next week we will look at the Lord’s Supper. We will also partake in communion next week. Then on Palm Sunday we will look at the crucifixion and end this series on Easter Sunday with the Resurrection. So four weeks left. But today I want to look at what is know as the Great Commandment.
Have any of you ever watched the movie The Ten Commandments with Carlton Heston as Moses? Is there anyone in here that can quote the 10 Commandments in order? Is there anyone here that knows what a commandment is? How many of you remember talking about command sentences in English class. Usually a command sentence is something like Go! or Do this now! It can be followed by a . or an !.
A commandment is simple. Webster says, “It is the act or power of commanding.” That doesn’t tell us a whole lot does it? Let’s break this word down. So, what is command? Again, we go to Webster and he says, “to direct authoritatively.” or “To have or exercise direct authority. To give orders. To be commander. To dominate as if from an elevated place.” There is an authority associated with the word command. So, when God wrote the 10 commandments. He had the authority to present those commands to us, His children.
The commands weren’t to punish but for instruction. Have you ever played a game? Have you ever tried to play a game without the instructions? It is almost impossible to do. And just like you need instructions on how to play a game and be successful, you need instructions on how to a successful live. The problem was the Jews had been debating the law for centuries. They had documented 613 commandments in the Law, 248 positive and 365 negative. No person could ever hope to know and fully obey all of these commandments. So, what did they do? They called in the experts and those experts divided the commandments into “heavy” or important laws and “light” or unimportant laws. A person could major on the “heavy commandments” and not worry about the trivial ones.
The fallacy behind this approach is obvious: you need only break one law, heavy or light, to be guilty before God.
10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
It wasn’t possible in our human form to maintain all of these laws. So, the Pharisees think they can trick Jesus. I mean how could any pick just one law out of the 613 commandments. We go to Baskin and Robbins and they give us 31 flavors and we can’t choose, so how would anyone be able to choose from 613 commandments.
Look at this conversation. It is found in Matthew 22:34-36
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
So they asked him for the greatest commandment in the Law? They thought, “we’re going to get Him good. There is no way He will be able to come up with just one law.” They saw that the Sadducees had failed in trying to trick Him. This was their bitter enemies. So now it was their turn. So, one of them, who was an expert in the law, asks this question, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
And look at how Jesus answers.
37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
In one statement, Jesus took all 613 commandments and grouped them into two. He told them I’ll give you the first two and everything else will fall in line. He said it this way, “All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
He tells them total love of God and genuine love of others. And when He says that all the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments, Jesus upholds the entire Old Testament legal system and leaves the opponents no fault to find with Him. These two Commandments are the greatest commandments. If you get these two right then you will have accomplished something great.
So, lets look at these a step further.
When Jesus said to Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, this means that man’s first obligation is to love God with the totality of his being.
And let me note here that in Mark, he adds with all your strength to his text. So, I believe that we could include that here. Jesus covered all the basis when He said this. The heart speaks of the emotional nature. The soul of the volitional or your will nature. The mind of the intellectual nature. And strength of the physical nature. So, you see Jesus covers your complete being. You are to love God with every part of yourself.
Loving God “with all your heart” means that he is the source and object of your greatest desires and passions. The very core of your affections must be centered on Him. It means that you are completely faithful and devoted to God and that His purposes direct every area of your life. When you love God this way, it means that you are willing to do anything that He wants you to do. Our love for God must be a life-directing love. We are inspired to love Him by how he loved us so much that He was willing to give up His son for our sake.
Loving God “with all your soul” has to do with your deepest longings. It has to do with your deepest emotions. It has to do with your deepest convictions. All of this must be focused on Christ and bring honor to Him. The soul could be described as the core of who you are, the real you, meaning that your identity is completely one with that of Christ. We all have a Driver’s License that says we can drive. It is also know as identification. It is how people recognize us. Our love of God should also be our identity.
Loving God “with all your mind” shows that serving Him is not just a matter of feelings or emotion. It is a deliberate act of your will. It means serving God with your intellect and seeking to please Him with thoughts, ideas and decisions based on His Word. Loving God with your mind requires doing what you know is right beyond how you feel or what rejection you might face from the world.
We get trapped in our own mind sometimes. We think too much. Sometimes you just have to do. Am I right? Don’t analyze it, just do it. Especially if it lines up with God’s Word. You don’t have to analyze whether it is good to invite someone to church or not. I can answer that for you. It is. You don’t have to analyze if it is good for you to go to church. It is. The pandemic messed us up big time. We let the government scare us into thinking that we would be in danger if we went to church or not. Now that it is over, we have people that still have gone back to church. Don’t put too much thought into loving God. Surround your mind with His thoughts and how much you love Him.
Loving God “with all your strength” means that your best energies and efforts go into serving God and promoting his purposes.
23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
It also means that you are willing to persevere in your faith when circumstances are challenging or even physically exhausting. At times, loving God may involve tough choices and a willingness to share the pain of obedience as He did.
10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
Our love for God is to be the kind of love expressed in Romans 12:1-2
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Jesus said, “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. Period. But then Jesus takes it one step further.
39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Love Your Neighbor
Love Your Neighbor
It would have been a lot simpler if Jesus had just said love your neighbor, but He added something extra to it. He added “as yourself”.
We love ourselves, don’t we. We buy ourself things. We take care of our physical needs by taking ourself out to eat. We make sure that we have clothes on our backs. We do whatever we have to do to take care of ourself. We want what we want. We get what we want. We do what we can to make sure that we do. That is the type of world that we live in. We live in a world that says take care of me.
So, when Jesus says, “love your neighbor as yourself”, don’t you think that He knows us. He knows that we love ourself and so therefore He tells us to love your neighbor the way you love yourself.
So, the question is, who is my neighbor? Is it the guy that lives next to me? Yes. Is it the person that I work with? Yes. Is it the person that I’m in the check out line with at the store? Yes. Is it the person on the street corner asking for food? Yes. Is it the person at the homeless shelter? Yes. Is it the drug addict that is needing another fix? Yes. It is the man that is throwing all his money at the stock market? Yes. Is it the man that is hoping for a big score at the casino? Yes. Is it the person that wants to use more pronouns than you can imagine? Yes. Is it the politician that supports abortion? Yes. Is it the illegal that crossed the border looking for a better life? Yes. Is it our president? Yes. All of these people are your neighbors and Jesus says to love them like you love yourself.
Oh, and it is those that are your enemies.
The love that we have for all these people must flow from our primary love and devotion for God.
However, love for God is the first and greatest commandment. And for this reason, God’s holiness, his purposes and the standards revealed in His Word must never be compromised in our efforts to show love for people.
In other words, love for God must come first, and nothing we do to demonstrate love to others should compromise our devotion to God.
Just because you love someone does not mean that you have to agree with them. If the choices they make don’t line up with God’s Word then you don’t have to agree with them to compromise your beliefs in what God’s Word says. I love you and I will show love towards you but I will not compromise my beliefs in what God’s Word says just so you will love me back.
My love is for God first and then comes my love for others. And if you don’t love someone, then you do not have a place with God.
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
I think the problem comes for christians today is they think because they have to love someone they have to accept who they are as well. But that is not true. I can love you and not agree with the choices that you make. That doesn’t mean that I have to point out the bad choices you make all the time either. Some times just showing someone love will go a lot further than trying to make them think that you agree with them.
I love all of you in here. I don’t necessarily agree with all of your choices but I love all of you.
There are things that my kids do that makes me mad. I don’t agree with their choices always But I love them so much that I would give up my life for them.
All of us are born with a selfish nature. Think about it. When our baby is hungry, they cry until they get their way. When they are in need of a clothes change, they cry until they get their way. When a child is angry, the only way they know how to deal with that anger is by lashing out. We have to teach them to lose those selfish tendencies.
Learning to love our neighbor as ourself is not natural. We were not born knowing how to love others. We were born knowing how to other love ourselves. So, it is not natural for us to love someone else as ourself. We have to learn to do that. So when Jesus says to love your neighbor as yourself this is a supernatural thing for us to do. And only those who have been born again can do it, and then only by allowing Christ to do it through us.
And by fulfilling these two commandments loving God and loving others as ourself, we are able to keep all the other commands.