Love – The First and Second Commands
The words I live by are found in Scripture, in the Gospel of Mark (similar words are also found in Matthew and Luke).
“What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”” (Mark 12:28b-31 NASB)
Jesus knew that the time was near when He would face the Cross, and He wanted to leave His followers with a message they would remember. He gave them two of the primary principles they would need to live by, once He was no longer with them. He wanted them to understand that LOVE was the most essential command.
Loving the Lord our God is the first great commandment Jesus gave His followers.
- Pursue the Lord as our greatest treasure.
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,” (Philippians 3:7-8 NASB)
- Make pleasing the Lord our chief aim in life.
“Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10 NASB)
- Spend time daily in God’s Word to get to know Him.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NASB)
- Obedience is the outward demonstration of our love for God.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 NASB)
Loving our neighbors as ourselves is the second commandment. And remember …
The Greek word used for love in these verses is “agape” – the kind of love that seeks the greatest good for others. In John 15:12, Jesus said: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” (NASB) Jesus loved us by laying down His life for us, so this means we need to be willing to lay down our lives for one another. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 gives us one of the clearest explanations of how we can live out this agape love. It’s a perfect description of how God loves us and how He wants us to love others.