And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law. (Mark 12:33 NLT)
During one of Jesus’ many teaching sessions a teacher of the law asked him, “Of all the commandments which is the most important?” (Mark 12:28NLT) This opened the door for Jesus to emphasize to the Jews the importance of following the command given by God in Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”
The teacher of the Law agreed with Jesus, even going so far as to admit that Jesus had spoken the truth. He then proceeds to say that he has followed the command. If this were true, then what was keeping him from becoming a follower of Jesus?
“Talk is cheap,” as the saying goes. It is one thing to know the right answers, to be able to quote chapter and verse, and to discuss the finer points of theology. But it is another matter entirely to put the words into practice, to be doers of God’s word. It has been said that many people are only eighteen inches from heaven. Intellectualism will not get a person into heaven. What is needed is a heart transformation.
The young man in today’s discussion knew the truth in his head: Loving God with all that we are and have. Thinking of him. Pursuing him. Ordering our lives around him. Serving him. Seeking to honor him. Obeying him. And out of that consuming love, loving others compassionately. The man understood all this and could articulate it. He just wasn’t able or refused to live out the truth.
The discussion that Jesus had with the teacher of the law gets right to the heart of worship. What’s the bottom line? Why have we been created in the image of God? How should we spend our lives? Of all the good things we could focus on, what is the best?
If you are struggling today to love God as he wants you to and show that love to those around you, call on him to fill you with his compassion.
Prayer: Dear Lord, give me the insight and power to live out your love today.