Living Out the Great Commandment

Living Out the Great Commandment

“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 12:30-31).

Outside of the Lord Himself, perhaps no one exhibited the balance involved in the great commandment more than the apostle Paul. Truly loving God with our all and loving neighbor as self are so important that “there is no commandment greater.” Paul stands as one of the foremost examples of what the grace and strength of Christ can do in / for us as we seek to honor Him in this regard (cf. 1 Cor. 15:9-10; Phil. 4:13).

The Great Commandment Involves Our Thinking. It has been well said, “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you” (James Allen). God is to be loved with all our “mind.” Paul exhibited this aspect of love so marvelously. He could reason with the Jews in the synagogues (cf. Acts 13:16-43), but at the same time, he could also proclaim the “UNKNOWN GOD” to the philosophers of Athens (cf. Acts 17:16ff). The will of God transcends time and culture, and Paul’s love for God and for others caused him to greatly use his mind in reaching others with Jesus (cf. 2 Cor. 10:5). And this was because “the love of Christ constrains us” (2 Cor. 5:14). How does our thinking reflect our desire to obey the great commandment? 

The Great Commandment Involves Our Valuing. God is to be loved with all our “heart” and “soul.” This aspect of love necessitates our feelings, values, priorities, passion, and compassion. The old saying that “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” reflects this component of love. It was this side of love that led Paul to speak of “great sorrow” and “unceasing grief” in his heart because lost souls (Rom. 9:1-3). It was this dimension of love that would lead him to suffer and weep with brethren in Ephesus (cf. Acts 20:17-38). It was this part of love that caused him to think of the gospel as he did (Rom. 1:14-16). Does our valuing (our feelings and priorities) truly show our desire to comply with the great commandment? 

The Great Commandment Involves Our Doing. God is to be loved with all our “strength.” In the words of that profound philosopher Larry the cable guy, “Get ‘er done!” Or perhaps one might prefer the time-honored maxim that “Actions speak louder than words.” There can be no question that Paul’s love for God and for others constantly displayed itself in his actions (cf. Col. 3:17, 23; Phil. 3:12-16). How does our doing reflect our desire to obey the great commandment? 

BALANCE IS NEEDED IN EACH OF THESE AREAS IF WE ARE TRULY TO LIVE OUT THE GREAT COMMANDMENT!

 

Mike Vestal

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