Vertical and Horizontal | Matthew 22:34-40
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."
Loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind is a pretty tall order, isn’t it? It means that we are to be devoted to the Heavenly Father with our emotions and desires (heart), our inner person (soul) and our thought life (mind) that drives our actions. We are to love God with our whole heart and whole self. That’s the first and greatest commandment. And there is a close second command that practically demonstrates how we are doing on the first. We are to love our neighbors (those God places in our lives) as we love and care for ourselves. The tall order just got taller.
In this passage, Jesus explains that our relationship with God is both vertical and horizontal. It reaches up to Him by the work of His Son and reaches out to others by the empowering work of the Holy Spirit. It calls for nothing less than all we are and all we have. This wholehearted love starts with those closest to us, and spreads out from there. This love shows itself to your wife and to the person at the hardware story who asks you to fill out five pages of information when all you need to do is exchange a 7/8 inch rubber washer for a 3/4 inch rubber washer. Loving others as ourselves can be painfully practical.
Here’s the thing. Jesus said, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” I am always amazed at how Jesus brings clarity and focus. He makes the confusing clear and the complex simple. He sums up the entire Old Testament with these two commands. Now all that’s left is the application. Hmm…that’s always the hard part, isn’t it?
Father, may I love You today with everything I am and everything I have. May I demonstrate that love in practical ways to others. May others know that I love You by the way I treat them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.