The Greatest Commandment

‘Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees came together in a body, and one of them tried to catch him out with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” He answered, ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ That is the greatest, the first commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Everything in the law and the prophets hangs on these two commandments.”’ (Matthew 22.34-40 REB)

It’s interesting that Jesus doesn’t choose one of the Ten Commandments, which I suppose were regarded with special respect as having come from the finger of God. But Jesus is looking for the simplest possible overarching principle that will sum up (not replace) all the other commandments, and he finds it in love.

‘Love cannot wrong a neighbour, therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law’ (Romans 13.10). But love is much more than the fulfilment of the Law. It’s possible to imagine someone saying “I’ve obeyed the Law perfectly.” It’s not possible to imagine a spouse saying to their loved one, “I’ve loved you perfectly, so there’s nothing left for me to do.” Love has inexhaustible scope for growth. Love is wholehearted, joyful, willing.

But I’m not there yet. Sometimes my love is joyful and willing, sometimes it’s a grudging, grit my teeth and do as I’m told kind of thing. Nevertheless, I offer it to you, God, knowing that in the Bible action is love, and praying that my feelings will follow my actions in good time. Amen.

(Today’s One Year Bible Passages are Exodus 17:8 – 19:15, Matthew 22:34 – 23:12, Psalm 27:7-14, and Proverbs 6:27-35)

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