Moses drew the bottom line for the people of God when he presented the stone tablets to them at the base of Sinai: Here are ten things you must, and must not, do. Love God, honour your parents; don’t lie, steal, kill, most of us know the commandments well enough to know when we break them, without peeking back at Exodus.
To ask – which commandment of God is the greatest? – is a bit like asking for a hierarchy of evil for future reference. As Robert Orbin says, most of us would like to be delivered from evil- but would like to keep in touch. The great commandment of Jesus doesn’t give us that option. Loving God with heart, soul, and mind is a pretty exclusive commitment. When it comes to life commitments, even a little infidelity is too much.
How does your commitment to God measure up against the Ten Commandments?
How does it measure against the love command of Jesus?
Express your love for God this week in prayer, praise and thanksgiving. Express your love for your neighbour, near and far, in concrete and significant ways. ‘These two commandments are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs on them’.
(Matthew 22: 37- 40 The Great Commandment)
Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence’. This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself’. These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs on them’.
The greatest commandment: Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, doesn’t really need a second commandment to follow it. But Jesus offers one about loving your neighbour as yourself. Why? If first-century Jews were anything like us, they didn’t really have a clue what it means to love God. Not sure how to love God? Start with yourself. Learn to love yourself; then love your neighbour as yourself. Work on that for a while, and you’ll get the hang of loving God.
In case you haven’t realised it, that second commandment- never mind the first-is way harder than Jesus makes it sound. Even by later life, most of us will have barely figured out how to love ourselves, so our neighbours are definitely going to get short-changed.
But before you decide this love stuff is a hopeless cause, remember that a big part of faith is acting as if something were true. You may not have mastered self-love, but act as if you are a lovable, loving person. Try to do at least one thing in your day that a person with a healthy sense of self-respect and self-worth would do. Then act as if you feel love toward your neighbours. At least once during the day, try exercising patience and understanding toward others for actions that would normally set you off. Follow Saint Paul’s advice and become an imitator of true Christians, and you just may find yourself with a whole lot of love someday.
We believe in you, O God, and you believe in us, and so we go forward confidently.
We will put the other gods in their place; we will serve our most needy neighbours; we will identify and use the talents you have given us.
On your new path, God goes with you. God’s peace is yours!
Thanks be to God! Amen.
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