Matthew 22:36-40 ``Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 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."
I know all of you have read or heard this verse often. So often I become so familiar with a verse, the familiarity breeds complacency. Lets take a practical look at what Jesus is saying.
The first and greatest commandment is straightforward. Love the Lord your God with ALL your soul and mind. God wants all of you. He wants your full devotion. He wants you to surrender fully to Him. I have often read this part and thought, "God I love you totally", but then I wonder, have I totally surrendered to Him? How about you?
The second commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself", can be more difficult to grasp. Who is your neighbor? I say everyone, every person you meet, every person you come in contact with and even people you do not know. These are your neighbors. Remember this, you have never locked eyes with a person who does not matter to God. All people matter to God, thus people should matter to us.
Just what is love? What does Jesus mean by loving your neighbor? The Bible contains several Greek words for love. Let's look at the two most common types of love found in the Bible, agape and phileo.
Phileo defines a love found among friends. It is a conditional love. Phileo love says, "You be nice to me and I will be nice to you," or "scratch my back and I will scratch yours."
Agape love is the unconditional love that God gives his children. It is the love Jesus gives freely to us. There are no conditions, no performance standards, and no hidden agendas. Agape loves regardless of the response received back. It is love that keeps on giving even when rejected.
Galatians 6:8-9 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
What are you doing with this commandment? Are you fully submitting to God? Are you really placing God first? Are you loving others with the agape love that God loves you with? Are you sowing to please the Spirit?
So, there you have it. A practical look at the greatest commandment given in the Bible. Today, I hope you will remember to love those around you. My prayer is you will remember everyone you see matters to God. Show them the agape love in you, the love that is fueled by our God. Try some simple acts of kindness today. Hold a door, let someone out in traffic, be kind to that person who serves you food today, be kind to your boss, your employees, your teachers, your classmates, your spouse, your kids, your brother and sister, and all those around you. Try it...you may be surprised at what love can do. : )