Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Greatest Commandment

November 7, 2015 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

I love this stanza from 1 Corinthians 13:

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

And I know many people say, “Exactly! Loving others is the only thing that matters. I don’t have to believe in the miracles or think that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. Just sentimental love is what I want… Ahhhh…Wuv….”

But that is not a careful reading of the text: 1 Corinthians states, “These three remain: faith, hope, and love”–not “only love remains” or “don’t worry about faith and hope,” but all three matter with love binding them all together. That is great Christianity, truly, but take one of the three out of the equation, and life’s questions become very difficult to be solved, if at all.

Asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus stated, “‘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’” (Matthew 22).

Notice which comes first–Loving God is the greatest commandment–not loving others (although that is integral to Godliness). And, according to Jesus, loving God means loving the Law and the Prophets–you know, the Old Testament, the Bible. Jesus loved people–yes, yes, but He had faith in God and His Scriptures first, which gave Him the hope and purpose and power to love others that society considered unlovable until His death on the Cross. To be a Christ-follower means loving God the Father, wholly, and trusting that His ways, His words, are THE path for a good, productive life.

And, by all means love, but start with loving our heavenly Father, to whom you owe everything.  If you hold His Word and His commandments and His ordinances in disdain, if you mock others who adore His greatness and His guidelines for holy living, guess what? You are being unloving, untrusting, and unhopeful about God and to others; you are only loving yourself, which is easy and basically self-idolatry (despite what Whitney Houston proclaims in her song). The real love of God and others produces hope, which in turn produces faith, which fosters more love, more hope, and more faith in a wondrous, amazing cycle of relationship, response, and recreation.

So, if you call yourself a Christian, then first pour out your love on God, sing out His praises, tell Him what you are so thankful for, give him that 20-second spiritual hug that Psychologists say is quintessential for mental and emotional health, and then let that love shower down upon others around you who desperately need faith, love, and hope in their own lives.

We are supposed to Christ to the world; people need to see the love of Jesus in our hearts for everyone, including God. Remember, love never fails unless people fail to love.

 

John KnoxJ.S. Knox has taught Bible, history, and religion for over a decade at several Christian universities in the Pacific Northwest and the East Coast, utilizing his PhD in Theology & Religion, a MATS in Christian History & Thought, and a BA in History and English to help his students more fully understand what it meant to be a Christian in the past—and why it is still relevant in the present. He currently lives in Idaho with his family.

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One Response to “The Greatest Commandment”
  1. The article is well written and powerful. May I be permitted to enlarge upon it, the greatest of all COMMANDMENTS?
    Examine Deut. 6:4-9
    “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

    “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”
    There are actually two parts to the greatest Commandment: (a) To love the Lord above all and (b) To obey and teach the BIBLE. “These WORDS I command you this day” were until Deuteronomy at that time. TODAY, it is the entire BIBLE!
    Love God with 99% percent of your heart? Forget it. With God it’s all or nothing. If there is anything more important to you than God, you have a different god. JESUS WILL SETTLE FOR NOTHING LESS THAN TO BE THE RULER OF YOUR LIFE. He honors your will. If you don’t want Him, you will automatically have the other one; and his name is Satan.
    What do you do with the WORD OF GOD? Read the Commandment. There are three steps.
    1) Study the Bible until it is IN YOUR HEART –m your innermost being, in your spirit, in your works, NOT just in your head.
    2) Teach it to your FAMILY when “Thou risest up, when you liest down….”
    3) Teach it to the PUBLIC you can reach, “Write them upon the posts of thy house…”
    This is the GREATEST OF ALL COMMANDMENTS OF GOD. What does it mean to YOU?
    With infinite love God gave us a Savior and his Word, The Bible, a light unto our path and life eternal for those who want it.

    The Bible is a love story; written with blood, upon a wooden cross; the story of God’s love for you.

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