The Great Commandments Jim Stegall
Updated: Mar 10
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
Over the last two Sundays, we have been looking together at the first and second commandments as seen in Jesus’ conversation with the religious leaders of Israel (not to be confused with the first and second commandments given to Moses on Sinai). Just days before he would be crucified, Jesus revealed to all that the greatest commandments in Scripture were to love God with everything we have and to love others in the way in which we desire to be loved. Since that day in Jerusalem, we as the human race have never needed to question our primary purposes in life. Never again have we needed to feel the burden of figuring out our calling in life. As he taught this to the crowds in Jerusalem, he made known to us our purpose and calling: loving him and others.
The struggle in which we find ourselves now is to keep the first commandment in first place. As the world competes with all its might for our affection, attention, and time, the Holy Spirit is beckoning us to, by his grace, go deeper into the knowledge of God. It can be so easy to let these two commandments drift to the periphery as we are caught up in the busyness of our lives. Jesus, however, is an ever-present help for us. He is ever gracious and kind to us as we grow and mature. In Psalm 103, David writes about this graciousness: "As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust." Some of us have known first-hand the difficulty of having parents who try to mature us through harshness, but our Father in heaven leads us tenderly.
When reading the above portion of Psalm 103, I imagine God as being like a parent who is teaching his child to learn to walk. As his children stand up, wobbly legs and all, he calls them to himself. Undoubtedly they fall as they learn, yet he is not impatient or quick to anger. Instead, he helps them to get back on their feet and try again until they can finally walk on their own. As you "learn to walk" in your journey to love God wholeheartedly and others as yourself, find rest in the reality that God is leading you gently as your Father. When you fall, get back up knowing that he is pleased with your efforts and will be there for you until you make it. You will walk in these two greatest commandments because he is a kind Father, and you are his beloved child.