March 13 – The First Commandment
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 first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘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.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he; and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any question.
When something is repeated in the Bible, whether it is a word or a story, God wants us to really pay attention to it. The story of Jesus giving us the greatest commandment was so important that it appears in three of the Gospels (Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12: 28-31 and Luke 10:25-28). Jesus could not pick out a single commandment as more important than another because that would have made the other nine not really important to follow. Instead, what Jesus did to answer the question was summarize the two sections of the Ten Commandments. The first three Commandments are about loving and respecting God, and the last seven are how we love and deal with other people. In Jesus’ perfect Commandment, He puts God before all else. We are to completely love our one and only living God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We are to put Him first and obey all that He has commanded. We are to love Him before we love ourselves or anyone else or anything else. We need to have complete belief, never doubt, and have faith that He loves us and only wants what is best for us at all times.
When we love God with all our heart, we are like a mirror and will reflect that love onto others. If we do not put God first, loving others as we love ourselves can be a challenge. It is difficult to put others needs in front of our own. It may be hard to love those with whom we don’t get along or who hate us because of our religion. God does not distinguish between us who are faithful to Him and those who don’t believe in Him when it comes to His love, compassion and forgiveness. Why are we thinking that we can hold back our love or forgiveness from someone else? He loves us all and He wants us all to love Him in return. We are called to be an example of the unconditional love that He has given to us by showing others that we can also love them in spite of how they treat us or dislike us. It might just plant that seed of faith. When we do not reflect God’s love, when we treat someone without love in return, we set a bad example of God’s love.
It may be difficult to love someone who doesn’t love us in return, yet God was willing to sacrifice His only Son in order to change the hearts of those who did not love Him. We, too, need to sacrifice ourselves in order to change hearts. God’s love is not just for us believers, it is for the whole world and must be shared, so that all may come to believe and love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.
Lent in Action:
Put God first in all that you do, and love someone who you do not get along with. Sincerely pray for them to feel the love of God in their life.
Father in Heaven, I love you with all my heart and all my soul. I want to do nothing more than to please you. I need help in loving those who hurt me, and those who persecute me because of you. Help me to see them the way that you see them, with unconditional love. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.