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Commission- Week 1
Big Idea: Jesus identifies an all consuming love of God as the GREATEST and and most basic command of the scriptures
Scripture Reference: Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV)
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
What is the Most Important Thing a Person Can Do?
By Charlie Loften
“What is the most important thing a person can do?”
If you were to conduct a survey asking this question, you would likely get a lot of different answers–great responses like:
Love your family.
Serve the poor.
Be kind to others.
Help those who cannot help themselves.
Most answers would involve serving and loving others, especially people who are vulnerable in some way. We should be doing these things if we are seeking to live a good life that is honoring to God. However, when Jesus was asked this question, He gave a very different answer.
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:36-38
Jesus’s answer was not centered on what we can do for other people, but was focused on our relationship with God. The most important thing we can do is to love God with everything—all our heart, all our soul and all our mind. When most of us think about Bible commands, we think of good deeds we can do for others or prohibitions against things that are bad–commands which encourage us to be good morally. Yet Jesus says the greatest command in all of Scripture is neither something good we do for someone else nor an act of personal morality. The greatest command in all of Scripture is to love God with all that we are.
But dare we ask why this the most important thing we can do? We may have this question but are afraid to ask it because God might feel insulted and bring out the smite button. However, it’s important for us to ask these kinds of questions, not to challenge God, but so we can more fully understand what He wants from us and why. So let’s ask it again, why is loving God the most important thing we can do?
Reason one: God is most important. This is a difficult concept for many of us. In reality we believe that people are the most important. Those who don’t have faith in God certainly believe this, but many of us who follow Christ believe it as well. We too often think it is God’s job to serve us. He is supposed to keep us healthy and happy and make sure everything works out well for us. This is completely backwards; in fact, it is our job to serve Him. God is the one who is the greatest, the most holy and the one who is worthy of worship.
Secondly, when we love God with everything, we fulfill our greatest purpose. God created us for Him. Think about that for a second. We were not sitting around somewhere, begging to be created, asking God to give us a good life. Before we were created, we didn’t exist. (Mind blown!) In the beginning, there was only God. He created us because He wanted to create, because He desired relationship with His creation. It follows then that our purpose in life is not to enjoy life (though God desires that for us). Our purpose is to live out the intention of our Creator. The first of which is to love Him and be in relationship with Him. From that starting point we can follow whatever other commands and mission God may have for us. However, first–most important–is to acknowledge the rightful order of things. God is first, and I am here for Him. He is the almighty creator of not just the universe, but also specifically of me.
Finally, it is the fuel through which we can do all of what God has called us to. Jesus goes on to say that the second commandment is like the first. We must love our neighbor the way we love ourselves. (More about that next week). He goes on to say that every other command hinges on those two. There are two important perspectives on this. The first is that if we love God and others well, we will naturally do the rest of the commands—do these two and you are ultimately doing everything. The reverse is also true. Focus on fulfilling the letter of the law without love and you are missing out on everything. The second truth here is that when we love God and fulfill that deepest purpose, His love and power fill us and give us what we need to do everything else.
We all want more from life. We want to be more and live better. We see people all around us trying many different paths to get there. For us, we must make sure we put first things first. We need to be fully-devoted to God. We must love Him with everything that we are. We must acknowledge His supremacy, submit ourselves to his authority and then through Him, we will become the fully-devoted, world-changing followers of Christ He has called us to be.
What does this mean for us?
- If you were the lawyer, what question would you have asked Jesus?
- Why does it matter to the lawyer and why should it matter to us?
- What is your definition of LOVE and do you think most people would agree with you?
- What is unique about loving with our HEART vs our SOUL vs our MIND?
- How would you rate your current obedience to this command?