3Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “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. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (NIV)
There is a basic truth in following God. We cannot share what has been given to us unless we are willing to be people of love.
This is the message Jesus expresses to the Sadducees and Pharisees in Matthew 22:34-40. Everything in life is tied to how we love others, whether it is God or our neighbor. To be truly generous we must be willing to be people who are capable of loving in both big and small ways.
Jesus gives us an outline of what our love should be based upon. He uses two passages from the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) to express this. He quotes Deuteronomy by saying we should love the Lord with, essentially, everything we have. In other words, everything we are or ever seek to be should be defined by and be in response to our love of God. The Lord is our First Love, because of what God has done in us through the grace of the cross. We are called to respond to the Lord with our love and commitment.
Jesus also quotes Leviticus and says we are to love others in the same ways we would love ourselves. The idea of neighbor for Jesus extends not just to people who are close to us but to all people. Jesus says we should love and care for others in the same ways we would love and care for ourselves.
What does this mean for us? How can our generosity be defined by this kind of action?
If anything it means this: The ways we serve the kingdom must be defined by our willingness to love others unconditionally. We must be willing to serve and give out of love. A love that is in response to what God has done for us and a love that is a gift we share with others in hopes that they will see God’s love for them. Each of us have the ability to be agents of change who promote love, whether it is in our church, our homes, our communities, or in the places where love does not seem to exit.
Where are places where you can share love today? Who do you know needs to feel love from someone? Who can you serve in love today?