"One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, 'Of all the commandments, which is the most important?' 'The most important one,' answered Jesus, is this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.'" - Mark 12:28-31

Love With All You’ve Got

What command of God is most important? We are to love God with all of our being, and we’re to love our neighbors as ourselves. Now, when Jesus talks about loving God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind, and with all of your strength – what is He saying? He’s talking about loving Him completely.

Have you ever fallen in love? Usually in the early days of that romance, there are some strong feelings. I remember when I fell in love with Anne. I wanted to be with her all the time. After dating her for a few weeks, one of my fraternity brothers jumped all over me. “What’s wrong with you? You don’t eat meals with us. You don’t play ball with us. The other night we were all sitting here chewing the fat in the room, and you just came in and went to bed. What’s wrong with you?” I didn’t care. Didn’t bother me a bit. My emotions, my feelings were all wrapped up in the beginning of romantic love for Anne. Well, when we get to know the love of God in Jesus, nothing else matters as much as our relationship with Him.

But, Jesus goes on and says, “The second is just as important: love your neighbor as yourself.” Unlike romantic love, this love is not based on feelings, but on Jesus’ command to love our neighbors. It means showing love and respect for them, even when they’re jerks. We decide to love them. Period. It doesn’t mean you are going to like them. But we show love for them. We have compassion for them. We show respect for them. We do what is right by them no matter how we feel. That’s what Jesus meant in loving our neighbors. We are to love them as God loves us.

The motive of obeying this great commandment is love. And because He loved us while we were yet sinners, we are to love our neighbor, even if they are hard to love.

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