April 21, Saturday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Mark 12:28-31

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 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.’31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 

Today’s passage is a well-known story that most of us are familiar with, and it serves as a helpful reminder of what is central to our lives as Christians. Jesus is once again tested by the scribes and religious leaders about the Torah. They are desperate to ruin Jesus’ reputation among the Jewish community in order to put a halt to His ever growing movement. This time they ask Him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” to which Jesus rightly answers, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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.” However, it is interesting that Jesus also tells them what is the second greatest commandment, which is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” The common thread to each commandment is love: love of God and love of neighbor.

It is important to recognize the order of these commandments. The first must be heeded before the second is made possible. As one commentator says, “Love of God is prior to love of neighbor and establishes its possibilities.” As much as we would like to think of ourselves as loving people, most of us are more self-centered than we’d like to think. We spend the majority of our time tending to our own needs and wants—only using the time and resources leftover for the sake of others. Simply put, we usually come first before anybody else. And it is difficult to find freedom from this posture of self-absorption.

What we desperately need is to be in a love relationship with God, learning how to love Him with all that we are and be loved in return. This relationship has the effect of healing our selfish tendencies and reorients us to live a life aligned to the kingdom value of other-centeredness. The more intimate we are with God, the more we are filled with love that can be shared with those around us. Without the first commandment, it is impossible to fulfill the second. For this reason, let us dive deeper into a love relationship with God!

Prayer: Father, help me to fulfill these two commandments. I am very selfish in many ways, often only thinking about myself. Free me from my self-centeredness and help me to love You and others well in my life.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Thessalonians 1-2

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