What thoughts float through your mind whenever the subject of the Commandments comes up? Are you guilty? Uncomfortable? Disinterested? Proud? Do you believe there are a couple that are antiquated and just don’t apply anymore?
Do you ever mentally run through the list and think, “Hmm, I’m doing a pretty good job?”
Whatever your reaction to God’s commands about idolatry, using His name in vain, honoring parents, keeping the Sabbath, murder, sexual purity, stealing, lying, and coveting, Jesus said the following when He was asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”:
“The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”Mark 12:29–31
If Jesus said that these are the greatest commandments . . . maybe it’s important for us to know the specifics of what that means.
What does it mean to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength?
- With all your Heart means making God your greatest treasure and the center of your emotional life.
- With all your Soul means making God the focus of your spiritual life.
- With all your Mind means making God the focus of your thoughts, attitudes, and intentions.
- With all your Strength means giving God your ambitions, dreams, finances, talents, efforts, and intentions. It means putting your love for Him into all you do.
What does it mean to love our neighbors as we love ourselves?
It means to love with care and compassion, to meet their needs . . . following the Golden Rule.
Wow! That’s great to talk about, but is it really possible to keep the Commandments?
In our sin-filled human nature – no, but with the power of the Holy Spirit – absolutely.
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.Romans 7:21–25
On our own, it’s impossible to Love, Trust, and Obey God the way He desires.
When you and I turn the page to chapter 8 of Romans, we see that Paul continued by saying:
There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.Romans 8:1–2
The Spirit gives the power that forgives and frees us from the past and strengthens us to resist giving in to future temptation. Not perfectly – but because we love God . . . intentionally.
Many people believe that Christianity is about following outdated rules and judging others.
Can you imagine the difference it could make if we made it a goal to show them that being followers of Jesus is all about love?
That doesn’t mean putting a stamp of approval on the things God calls sin. It means treating everyone with kindness, care, and compassion because we KNOW that we are all sinners in need of God’s grace, mercy, and love.
And that may be the very reason Jesus said the most important commandment says . . . Love God and Love People.
A Prayer to Apply the Love Commandments to Life
Father, please forgive us. We tend to dissect Your commands. We want to pick apart the letter of law rather than the intention of Your will. Please forgive me. I can be quick to make excuses for my own sins while criticizing and finding fault in others. Your Word says we have all sinned and that we all fall short of Your glorious standard. (Romans 3:23) We all need Your mercy and grace.
We need Jesus, who showed us how to follow Your commands perfectly. We need Jesus, who suffered our punishment for us. We need Jesus, who told us that Your will for us is defined by and demonstrated as LOVE. Agape LOVE. Jesus showed us how to love unselfishly . . . how to care for others sacrificially.
I want to obey Your will. I want to follow Jesus’ example of love. Please fill me with Your Spirit and give me all that I need to resist the temptation of selfishness. I give myself to You. Please help me love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love my neighbor as You desire. I pray in the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus. Amen.
When we want to obey God’s will, we have to KNOW His will. We need the truth of His Word and the power of His Spirit.
And if we want an easy way to remember God’s Commandments, just remember…
LOVE GOD and LOVE PEOPLE!
May the Lord be with you as you focus your love and attention on Jesus, ASKing and SEEKing His help to apply His Commandments and live for His glory.
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