And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Jesus had been subject to these different groups questioning Him, trying to find something they can use against Him—the question of giving tribute to Caesar and whose wife the woman will be in heaven who had seven brothers take her as their wife. Finally, the scribes come and ask their question, basically, “What is the most important thing we’re supposed to do?” And the answer is love. The answer is a focus on God with every part of who we are. It’s not just a casual love-y kind of feeling, but something that consumes our whole self and our whole life. It is a love that places God at the center of all we are, which then causes us to be able to love others as we should.
But was this all kind of theoretical to the Pharisees and scribes, maybe theological but not practical? Was it more of an exercise in ideas and concepts and rightly interpreting the law and not so much putting it into action? Was it more of an intellectual thing than a spiritual thing? As they engaged in these sort of debates with Jesus, it became more about knowing than actually doing anything or being something.
Jesus, on the other hand, was expecting them to live it out. His teachings aren’t just good ideas. They’re not just scripturally sound. But these are things we are supposed to actually do. And this first and greatest commandment is the whole point of everything. It is important to take those truths and make sure we know and understand them, but then we go one step further and live them out, integrate them into our lives, do what God says and be what He wants us to be.
So what are we going to do with our knowledge? What will we do with this understanding that the greatest purpose of our lives is to love God with all of us, to pursue all of who God is with all of who we are? How will we live knowing that He wants us to love Him most of all and love others with His love? Will we seek to live it out, or does it just seem like a good idea, a biblical truth to know but not do anything more with? May we be willing, with all of our passion, energy and desire, to love God, to give Him first place, to do what He wants us to do, and to be who He wants us to be.