Theme of the Old Testament as emphasized by our Lord Jesus: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Deu 6:5; Matthew 22:37, etc.). It is not new, but it is easily forgotten, and so the need for another reminder.
It is my belief and view that these life changing verses which follow Matthew 22:37-39 articulate and apply the second great theme of the Bible—our obligation to love God by loving others. In Old Testament terms, once again reiterated and confirmed in the New, this obligation is: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18; Matthew 22:39; Romans 13:9, etc.). Love for our neighbor is a dominant and cohesive theme in various significant places in the NT (Romans 12:3, 15:3). Love must inspire and govern our ministry to one another within the body of Christ as we exercise our spiritual gifts in authentic Kingdom service.
In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus shares and shows how love is to govern our relationships, not only with our fellow-believers, but also with our neighbors and even our enemies as noted (Matthew 5:48). In these verses, Jesus teaches and speaks of the good which love inspires—even if the recipients persecute the Christians who practice such love.
Beginning in our Matthew 22:37, Jesus shares the commitment of love that we need to build garner authentic relationships. Jesus directs our attention to what love will do, not only love God who we have not seen but love our neighbor who see readily and daily. Specifically, love does no wrong to our neighbor (noted in Romans 13:10). Matthew 22:37-39 engages and redirects our attention God-ward, providing both the motivation and the means for living in love. Jesus directs us to think both of our initial salvation and of our final salvation, and of the limited time which we have to offer to Him our service of worship in this life.
Love is not only the motivation which inspires our actions, it is the principle by which our actions are governed please see the Heart of our Lord in the text Matthew 22:37-39. Loving God and loving men is therefore to be the outgrowth of salvation and of sound doctrine. These themes give unity to the entire Kingdom of God.
Even more, the Kingdom minded heart should look beyond him/herself to others with a spirit of obligation, an obligation rooted in gratitude toward God and in love toward others. Unfortunately in our culture, we look to others with a very different attitude. We might be able to capture the essence of this attitude with the term “expectation.” In our sinful, self-seeking flesh, we do not look upon others with an obligation to serve them at our expense, but to be served by them at their expense. We live in a day of expectation, not obligation.
Sadly, Many believers have taken on the attitude of the world rather than being renewed in their minds to think and act like our Lord. We look around to see if others are affirming us and meeting our needs. We look back at the past, not so much to consider the obligation and debt which we owe to our parents, but to see how “dysfunctional” our family was and to contemplate how family members failed us. We look back with expectation, not with obligation. We look around, not with obligation, but with expectation. This is not the way of love which is a more excellent (I Corinthians 12:31). Love subordinates self-interest in order to serve others. It seeks others gain at our expense. Emotionally and personally speaking, we are not producers; we are consumers. And, I fear, we are on the verge of relational bankruptcy. God’s way is the higher way. His way is the better way; His way is the way of love. Today’s message is one (I) wrote for a Seminary assignment and thought I would share it with you all!
Blessings and love,