The Greatest Commandment
ebruary is here, the month focused on love and relationships! Some of us love it and some of us hate it. At the risk of being super cliche, we’re going to jump on the love/relationship bandwagon with our blog focus this month. We’re going to do a weekly series on how to have a healthy relationship with God, yourself, and others. More specifically, we’re going to talk about the importance of our relationship with God and how having a correct view of God and a healthy relationship with Him is essential in being able to live out what Jesus deems the greatest commandment.
In Matthew 22 when asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus tells us: “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:36-40
Jesus tells us that more important than anything else is loving God with our entire being and loving others as ourselves. Easier said than done, right? Many of us are familiar with this verse, but not so many live it out. When we struggle to live this verse out it is most often because we have a wrong view of God and a wrong view of ourselves, which in turn prevents us from being able to love God, ourselves, and others the way He asks us to.
So how do we live it out?
First we need to understand that this verse is sequential. It shows us that we must first be able to love God with all of our being in order to be able to love ourselves and love others as ourselves. But what does it mean to love God with all of our being?
I believe many of us read this verse through a lens of condemnation. We may read it and tell ourselves “I need to love God more, so I’ll just try harder. I’ll do more good works. I’ll be more obedient”. However, if we think about relationships with other people, do we grow in our love for them by trying to perform? This belief is works-based and can often resort in an orphan mentality that believes we are not loved or worthy of love if we aren’t performing to a certain standard. This is not how true love develops. Growing in love for someone starts with getting to know them, learning who they truly are and learning about their attributes, values, and the little characteristics that make them who they are. We must spend time with them in order to do this. We can’t just know about them, we must spend time with them to learn who they truly our for ourselves. This is the whole purpose of dating right? We have to date in order to get to know someone and love can develop as a by-product of that. The same is true for our relationship with God.
Knowledge about God pales in comparison to intimacy with Him. We can’t force ourselves to love Him. We can’t perform our way into knowing Him. No, we must start by simply getting to know Him and understanding His true character and nature. The more we get to know Him, learn His true character and goodness, the more we will grow in love for Him. The great thing is that as we spend time with Him and get to know Him, we not only learn His true idenity, we also begin to learn our true identity by learning how He views and feels about us. This process allows us to heal our wrong view of God and our wrong view of self. Was we begin to walk in knowledge of His true identity and our true identity, then we are able to truly love others as ourselves because we have learned to love ourselves well.
Simply put, we fulfill the greatest commandment by just getting to know who God truly is and allowing Him to correct our wrong views with His truth.
So the first step is loving God with our entire being and cultivating relationship with Him. Let’s start this process by determining where you are in your relationship with him right now. We don’t know where we need to go until we know where we are. What is your current view of God? Maybe you don’t know or have never considered that question, that’s okay! This week, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you how you currently view God and write down what He reveals. Next week, we will pick back up in discussing how we can begin to bring our current view of God into alignment with who He truly is.
36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:36-40