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.
There were 613 Old Testament laws that good Jews tried to follow. By saying that all those laws hang on these two (v. 40), Jesus was making a profound statement. It doesn’t simply mean it’s really important to love God and other people; it means loving God and people is everything. It is the summation of life in Christ.
These verses contain Jesus’ response to the question, “Which of all the commandments is greatest?” The question had been asked by a religious leader whose intention was to test Jesus. The man likely was an expert at saying and doing all the right things, outwardly. However, Jesus’ answer moved the focus of the question from right action to right affection, from outward appearances to inward authenticity of heart. Our love for God is to be unconditional and undivided in the way that His love for us is unconditional and undivided. This love is to extend from our whole heart, soul, and mind.
“The second is like it,” shows the two commands are intrinsically tied together—if we love God, then we will love those whom God loves. The way we interact with God affects how we interact with others. Consequentially, our friendship with God affects our friendships with other people. It’s impossible to be faithful to Jesus without also being faithful to people who follow Him. It’s impossible to be His friend and not be a friend to people He calls friend.
• The reason the second part of the command is necessary is because it represents the heart of God: as a person loves God more fully, that person is transformed into God’s likeness. God’s desires become the person’s desires. There is a supernatural outflow that takes place. What is one way your love for God has impacted your love for people so far?
• What are some practical ways that you can demonstrate the love and friendship of God to other people this week?
• Thank God for His unconditional and undivided love for you. Ask Him to help you be obedient when the Holy Spirit prompts you to extend His love and friendship to other people, even if it is in a way that is outside your comfort zone.