#DailyDevotion You’re Not Loving God With Your Whole Being If You Don’t Love Your Neighbor
Matt. 2234When the Pharisees heard He had silenced the Sadducees, they got together. 350ne of them, an expert in the Law, tested Him by asking Him, 36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37Jesus answered him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the greatest and most important commandment. 39The next is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Well ever since chapter 21 and Jesus came into town riding on a donkey with shouts of “Hosannah!” the powers that be have been after Jesus. The Sadducees, the elders, the chief priest, the Pharisees and the Scribes all see Jesus as a threat to their power structure. In one sense he is. If he is the Messiah and they put their trust in him, their lives will be turned upside down and they can’t do and teach things as they have been doing. On the other hand, if they submitted to Jesus and believed in him, they could have had related vocations in his kingdom.
In these verses, it is the Pharisees who come after Jesus with a Scribe, an expert in the Law. They came together as one to plot against Jesus to test him to see whether or not they could trip him up. The Scribe or lawyer asks Jesus which is the greatest commandment. Dr. Jeff Gibbs in his commentary notes this might be controversial because they want to see what Jesus’ hermeneutic is, that is, what is the controlling thing for him to interpret Scripture with. For the Pharisees it appears the Commandments are the chief interpretive principle of the Old Testament. If Jesus gets this wrong, well perhaps the can condemn him.
Jesus is answer, starting out at least, is what they would want, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Well we know from other encounters with lawyers in Jesus’ ministry this is the answer they should get. We are to love the LORD our God with our whole being (which is meaning of heart, soul and mind). Jesus never being one to leave things alone expands upon that, “The next is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Loving God with our whole being is not enough and in fact if the second doesn’t follow, you cannot be doing the first. John writes, 1 John 420“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he’s a liar. If anyone doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, he can’t love God Whom he hasn’t seen. 21And this is the order He gave us: If you love God, love your brother.”
Why is this true? Because your neighbor, your fellow Christian, anyone you meet has been made in the image and likeness to God. How you treat the people you meet is how you treat God, whose image you are interacting with. It matters not what God’s image is doing. What matters is how are you treating God’s image? Are you treating it with love, patience, kindness, and mercy? Or are you treating it with contempt, hatred, indifference and demands? Are you serving your neighbor or demanding your neighbor serve you? If you are not treating the people you encounter in life as having more honor than you then you are not keeping the greatest commandment. All the commands of God hang on these two commandments because they all have to do with loving God and loving our neighbor. Thanks be to God, Jesus Christ has kept these commandments for us and gives us his Holy Spirit in baptism so we may begin to keep them ourselves.
Heavenly Father, forgive us for not keeping your commands. For the sake of Jesus have mercy upon us and give us your Holy Spirit that we may make a start of it. In Jesus’ name. Amen.