First and Greatest Commandment
By A. McGrane
“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 neighbour as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
God’s commandments reveal His character and His plan for our lives. In this verse, Jesus sums up all of God’s commandments as love. God Himself is love (1 John 4:8) and His plan for us is to live in community and harmony with Him and with those around us, to give love and receive love.
However, so often we struggle with this. We fail to put God first in our lives. We choose our own way rather than His way, we allow unforgiveness and bitterness towards others into our hearts, and we follow self destructive paths. As we try to love others we can easily get hurt, discouraged and burned out. No matter how hard we try we cannot live up to this high standard of love.
The truth is that we can not fulfil these commands in our own strength. Loving God and others cannot be achieved through obligation or duty – we must engage our heart, soul and mind. To truly love we need to go to the source of love Himself.
“Our love for God, ourselves and others flows from a revelation of His unconditional love for us.”
Loving God is the ‘first and greatest’ commandment because everything else flows from it. How do we love God? It starts by knowing Him; spending time with Him, talking with Him, and learning more about who He is. As we get to know God we experience more of His love for us, and this changes everything.
We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Our love for God, ourselves and others flows from a revelation of His unconditional love for us. When we follow the first commandment, we are enabled to do the second. Only when we know God and receive God’s love for ourselves can we truly love each other without limits. When we submit ourselves to God He gives us greater capacity to love others and we can extend the same value, unconditional love, forgiveness and grace to them as we ourselves have received from Him.
The key to living the life of abundance, love and freedom that God has planned for you is in following the first and greatest commandment. There is no other way. The solution to the conflict and struggles in your relationships, your hurt, your unforgiveness, your insecurities and your fears is in Him. He is the source of love, peace and grace for our lives. But just as with any relationship it takes time, effort and dedication to know and love Him. We must choose to prioritise our relationship with God and put Him first in our lives. Only then will we be empowered and enabled to love those around us well and live the life He has called us to.
Spend some time today to think about how you can develop your personal relationship with Jesus. Ask God to show you ways in which you can do this.
What does it mean to you to love God with all your heart, soul and mind?
What practical steps can you take each day to do this?
What changes can you make to give Him more time to speak into your life?
There is always a next step for all of us to take in our relationship with God whether you have known Him for many years or are just starting out in your journey with Him. God will meet us where we are at, but it is important we make that choice to move towards Him. As you take these steps towards Him today, be expectant for Him to pour out His love on you and empower you to love like He does.