“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Love your neighbour as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-40
When the Pharisees saw how he had silenced the Sadducees they desired to gain “popularity points” with the crowd. One among them a lawyer asked the trick question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” He had in his mind that the Pharisees were far better learned to be silenced by Jesus. Jews divided the commandments into greater and smaller laws but on the issue of the greatest one, there was no consensus whatsoever. Jesus plunged into a new area of insight by not only saying which commandment was the greatest but also defining how to follow the commandment. He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Love your neighbour as yourself.”
Love for God
He recommended the greatest commandment to be the one inclusive of the rest and not exclusive of the others. All the law was fulfilled in one word, “love”. True surrender to live under the law of God must be headed by love, otherwise we labour in vain since God desires our hearts and not our works (Ephesians 2:8-9). The first is to love God with all our beings. The reason is that love in its truest form is only found in God, who is love (1 John 4:8). We are only able to love Him because He first loved us. We are only able to give to others freely what we have received. No one can guide anyone on a journey they have not taken before.
Loving God with all your heart means that you love nothing in comparison to Him and love nothing else in reference to Him. You love Him with your soul when you are ready to endure hardships, turmoil, sometimes even death because of the love that you have for Him. Then with your mind refers to complete devotion to knowing God and His will, to banish any understanding or learning that does not bring you close to God. loving God this much is not possible unless by the help of God Himself. Romans 5:5 “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit”.
Love for Neighbour
When you “fall in love” with someone you slowly become a lover of their values and what matters to them. I have seen people who liked blue as their favourite colour, totally converted to red because their wife likes it. In this very same way, you can not claim to love God and have no love for people and especially your neighbour. We owe to our neighbour what we expect of him (Matthew 7:12). This implies that we must also love ourselves, and the source of this is in God. Many have struggled with self-help material on how to raise their self-esteem. Jesus recommends learning how to love through loving God, then we would be able to love our neighbours sincerely, purely as we do ourselves. It is a very radical command. It cuts to the root of sin, called pride. Love must be practical.
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King James Version (KJV)
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
New International Version (NIV)
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“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 greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
New American Bible (NASB)
“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 foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Upon these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets.”
English Standard Version (ESV)
“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.”
The Living Bible (TLB)
“Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: ‘Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if you obey them. Keep only these and you will find that you are obeying all the others.”