The Greatest Commandment

Scripture Reading — Mark 12:28-31

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” — Mark 12:30

The teacher of the law who asked about the most important commandment was trying to test Jesus. He might even have been trying to trip Jesus up.

But in this classic teaching, Jesus identifies the power and primacy of loving the Lord our God as the most important thing we can ever do. Ironically, love cannot be commanded, but loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength gets at the whole purpose of all the commandments. This is a holy invitation to have our entire lives directed toward loving God.

Our hearts beat in rhythm with honoring God. Our hearts are aligned with the commandments, but not for the simple sake of keeping them. The purpose is to honor God.

Our souls, our eternal spirits, place God first in our lives. We can serve ourselves, but how much better it is to dedicate our lives to God!

Our minds think in ways to give the world the shape of things to come. Minds are creative and powerful, and in training them to glorify God in all we do, we can shape the world to act with more of the justice and goodness of God’s kingdom. Our strength directs all our resources for God’s purposes. Our money, skills, relationships, influence, abilities, and so on are strongest when applied for the love and honor of God.

Prayer

Jesus, help me to grow in understanding and practicing how to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Amen.

The Second Greatest Commandment

Scripture Reading — Mark 12:28-31

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” — Mark 12:31

This month we have been challenged to follow Jesus and see how this changes us and gives meaning to our lives. And we have made lots of discoveries while Mark has been laying the groundwork for living our new life in Christ.

The call to love our neighbor is not complicated, but it can be challenging to follow. It means more than being hospitable, tolerant, patient, and kind. It means more than showing respect and honoring others. It also means more than just being civil with people you disagree with—even though it also means all of that.

Loving our neighbor implies that the well-being of others matters—so we should work for justice, protection, and opportunities for others to thrive. It means listening to others, caring about the environment and health care, and taking apart institutionalized oppression that limits the opportunities of others. It also shows that the possibilities for showing love and care for our neighbors is endless and could leave us overwhelmed by all the needs for neighborly love!

Yet all of us can love our neighbors in the name of Jesus Christ. We can love them enough to show how the love of Jesus is shaping us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

As you are loved, Jesus says, so love one another (see John 13:34).

Prayer

Thank you, Lord, for loving me so completely that I am being completely changed! Help me to love my neighbor with the love you have for the world. Amen.

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