The Second Greatest Commandment
It’s Harder than the First to Keep – Part I
Scripture Reading: Matthew 22:34-40 NLT
Key Verses: Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT) Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
In today’s Scripture Reading, an “expert in the law” approached Jesus with a question. His motive was to trick Jesus into saying something that the Pharisees could later use to accuse Him of poor understanding of the sacred scriptures.
The question was: which commandments are the most important? We know what Jesus said but stop a moment and think about how you would have answered the question.
I would have said that they are all important, and that one is not more important than the others.
Jesus, without hesitation, said: “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. ‘This is the first and greatest commandment.”
As far as the “expert in the law” was concerned, Jesus had answered the question and it was not necessary for Him to say anything more. However, Jesus quickly added a second command that He said was equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
Not only was Jesus emphatic about these two commandments being the two most important, but He also added more, just so there would be no misunderstanding how important these two commandments are:
“The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:40 NLT)
This “expert in the law” was likely speechless after hearing these answers from Jesus. All of the Ten Commandments are important but they are not equally important… we must keep this straight in our minds if we are followers of Jesus.
The title of this week’s devotionals is about the idea that the second command is tougher to obey than the first command.
For a Christ-follower, it is easy to see God as worthy of our total love and obedience. It is no surprise that Jesus gave the first commandment as the greatest command. It is not easy to love God with the entirety of our hearts, souls and minds, but we are very aware that God deserves that kind of love.
The second command is about loving people that sometimes do not seem to deserve our love. People around us often upset us and even make us angry because of the way they treat us or because of the way they live. These people are very hard to love in the way that Jesus told us to love them.
Even in churches, families refuse to sit on the same side of the church as another family because of conflict between them.
This month we are going to explore how to obey this very tough command to love those around us, I hope you stay with me.
Father, grant me the wisdom to understand the second command, and the strength to obey it as I deal with the people around me. In Jesus’s Name, amen.