(The following is the January 28 devotional from my Next Step Devotions book. Before reading it, I suggest you read Matthew 22 and pay close attention to verses 34-40.)
Pharisees tested Jesus by asking, “Which command in the law is the greatest?” (v. 36). Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands” (vv. 37-40).
Our primary command is to love God. The details of how we do that vary from person to person. We must turn to the Bible for the principles and specific behaviors that please God while living in a personal relationship with him. There is more than enough instruction within the Bible’s pages to keep us busy obeying this command until Jesus calls us home. The second command is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This command assumes we properly love ourselves and treat others as we want them to treat us. That’s easier said than done.
The common verb in both commands is love – love God and others. Jesus commands (not suggests) that we love. It is imperative. We need the Holy Spirit to indwell us to love God and others. We must continually grow in spiritual maturity as we become more Christlike and demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. We won’t perfectly master love for God or others this side of Heaven, but we can grow in Christlikeness as we mature.
One caution to remember when focusing on high-level principles like love is that we can’t use general principles to negate specific scriptural teachings. For example, we can’t say that our love for others is why we refuse to confront them about living in sinful ways contrary to God’s Word. Neither can we commit acts Scripture condemns as sins while claiming to do so in love. God’s love never negates or contradicts specific teachings in his Word.
When did you last break the second command to love others as you love yourself? What can you do to correct that situation?