The Greatest Commandment is Love
Yesterday was…chaotic, in a word. Our family is having some struggles with this move, and it has led to many tense conversations and emotional breakdowns. My soul feels tired. But yesterday’s and today’s Scriptures have helped replenish me a little, and I am leaning on my Scripture writing for guidance and comfort. So here is another entry that will talk about two Scriptures. Bear with me.
1 Peter 1:3-9
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.”
This Scripture tells that that God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to give us hope. Through Christ’s resurrection, we are offered “a living hope,” one that is pure and cannot be contaminated or corrupted by this world because it is in Heaven. In other words, our hope is Christ in Heaven. It also tells us that our faith is a precious thing and, though it may be tested, we should still glorify, honor, and praise God because He sent Jesus for us. Lastly, it says that we love Him even though we do not see Him.
This, perhaps, is the strongest verse.
We believe in our souls in our God and in Christ, so we love Him. And that is faith—believing in something even if you cannot see it.
“Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.””
Here, Jesus is telling us that what God views most important are two things: love Him with your whole being and to love others. The scribe responds that this is true, of course, but what is important is the last line: that those are “more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” In other words, it does not matter what offerings or sacrifices you give if you do not do it in love for God or love for others.
The take away is…
I am going to make a leap here to connect these two Scriptures, and I ask that you take the leap with me. 1 Peter 1:3-9 is telling us that Jesus Christ is our living hope and we should glorify God above all else, even in times when our faith is tested. Like it may be when we try to abide by the second most important commandment in Mark: love others. In Mark 12:28-33, Jesus tells the scribe that the first greatest commandment is to love God “with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” and the second is to love others. It can be hard to glorify God when we are having difficulty loving others. (Let’s face it—we’ve all been there.) But we must.
We should love and glorify and honor God with our entire being, as Jesus commands, no matter what we are going through. Our faith may be tested with fire, but still we should love God as He commands.
I won’t lie to you: that can be hard. Heavens, that can be hard.
What about that time my grandfather became suddenly ill and passed away before I truly had a chance to say goodbye? I can tell you, I did not glorify God then. I was angry. How could He take this person from me, from my family?
What about that time my husband made a commitment that I didn’t fully understand and needed to know more about but he made it anyway? Did I glorify God? No. I cried, I yelled, I asked “why my marriage, God?” Did I “love others” in this instance? Probably not. I was mean spirited and I pushed my husband away.
And what about when my parents divorced? I didn’t glorify Him then.
But now I see the beauty in some things.
Does it still hurt that my grandfather is no longer here? Yes. But my faith tells me he is with his Heavenly Father, and what more glorious place to be than there.
I was angry for a while with my husband. Unrightly so. But God has blessed us through that decision. My husband has found his passion, his calling. He may not have otherwise. And I thank God for that. And, if it’s possible, I love him even more.
10 years later, does it still hurt that my parents divorced? Eh, yes and no. I’m over it at any rate. Old enough to know it isn’t my concern. But I am still blessed through that. How? My parents both still support me. They both still love me and care about me. My mom has gotten to do things in her career that she has always wanted to do. I get to visit more places. The dad-daughter time I have with my dad when I see him is that much more special.
My point is, we can be tested, but there is a blessing in everything, even if we don’t see it yet. That is faith—believing in something even if you cannot see it.
What do you need to have faith for? Maybe it’s a change of scenery or of a situation. Maybe it’s just that “things,” whatever they may be, work out. Maybe it’s that everything stays the same. Or maybe you need a push to love others because you have been hurt by something in the past. Whatever it may be, allow me to encourage you to never stop believing. The most important commandment is to love God and His people (“love your neighbor as yourself”) above all else.
So, today, practice love.