Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The Pharisees were trying to get Jesus to place one commandment above another, thereby dividing the crowds and causing dissention among His followers. In modern terms, it would be like asking Him what His favorite NFL team is (the Cowboys is the obvious answer). See what I mean? He would be stirring up a hornet's nest, to say the least.
That's enough about the Pharisees…what about us? How often do we look at our lives as Christians and sum them up in that one word: love? If we look at the Ten Commandments, loving God above all else is the point of the first four while loving others is the object of the remaining six. I think we get this intellectually, but do we get it practically? Is "love" the way we really try to live out our lives according to Jesus' exhortation in today's passage? Honestly, for most of us, the answer is probably "no."
I still tend to think "performance" most of the time. Do this for God. Do that for God. Treat others well because He wants me to. Obey. Obey. Obey. Is this flowing out of my love for God and for others or is it flowing out of my old slave mentality? Do I love God and others because that is actually how I feel or do I do it out of a sense of obligation? There is a big difference, especially when it comes to the Gospel.
When I do something nice for my wife or children or even for a friend, it's usually because I really want to and it brings me great joy. I don't do it out of fear that they won't love me. Hopefully, I don't do it because I expect something in return. I do it, and this is Jesus' point, simply because it is a natural expression of my love for them. Therefore, LOVE is the most important aspect of my relationship with them. It is the fuel that makes the entire machine work.
AGAPE is the form of the word "love" that Jesus used and it is the word the Bible uses to describe God's love for US. It is a "one way" love. God loves us despite our sin or returning of that love. It reminds me of Romans 5:8 which says "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." It is a love that overwhelms everything in its path. It is a tsunami that carries away all of our sin, guilt and shame…never to be seen or heard of again. It is the glue that held Jesus to the cross on our behalf. It is the victory that brought Him out of the grave and back to His Heavenly throne.
LOVING is the one word that SHOULD describe every follower of Christ. Does it describe YOU?