Our scripture this morning is Matthew 22:35-40.
One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Jesus was often confronted by religious leaders who tried to make Him look bad. This sounds much like the situations we see today – attempt to win the competition by tearing down your opponent. Jesus had a better way. Instead of condemning them, He taught them with God’s love.
This lesson is a beautiful example of how Jesus leads us to the truth. God’s love doesn’t come at the point of a sword or with fiery rhetoric about how wrong we are, but with gentle words about our relationship with Him and each other. Jesus shows us we can’t do either without the other.
If we put our connection with God first, the relationship with others will follow. As we see in this passage there is no guarantee others will love us, but loving them is what we are called to do. “Love God, love neighbor” is a simple summary of this teaching. If we get this right, many of our other issues will disappear.
Loving Lord, we are sorry for the times we have failed to love as You have commanded us. May we love You with our whole being and others as ourselves always. Amen.