The Greatest Commandment

Matthew 22/Mark 12

There’s a song on K-Love (Christian radio station) called “Love God and Love People” by Danny Gokey. The chorus goes “Gotta keep it real simple, keep it real simple bring everything back down to ground zero, cause it all comes down to this love God and love people”. The song is very catchy, yet while this command is simple at the same time it takes an entire lifetime to grow and mature in living out the greatest command God has given to his people. 

The greatest commandment is found in today’s passage and it comes from the lips of the greatest teacher who ever walked the earth, our Lord Jesus Christ. I could say much on this topic yet I will keep it brief and to the point. The two commandments Jesus states as the first and second most important come from the Old Testament. The first and greatest commandment, love God, comes from Deuteronomy 6.4-5. The second commandment, love people, comes from Leviticus 19.18. These two texts Jesus sees as the greatest commandments because the whole law of God can be summed up in these two commands. Also, Jesus not only tells us the two most important commandments but he gives us the divine priority of Christian love. God comes first and only then people. As Christians we do not love people first and then God. We love God first in priority then our neighbor. A blessed Christian life is one that seeks to love God before all else.

For the rest of this devotion, I want to focus on the first and greatest commandment. What does it mean to love God? To love God means to love him with our entire person or being. There are three aspects of our person that we are to love God with in Deuteronomy 6.4-5. These three are; the mind, the soul, and our might. 

To love God with our mind means primarily that we engage with the truth God has revealed about himself in scripture. In short, we love God when we read, study, and meditate upon the Bible. To love God with our soul means to love him with our emotions, affections, and desires. If we say we know God yet are unmoved by him, we don’t know him. It is impossible to love God and remain cold and indifferent. Our emotions do not form the foundation of our relationship with God but they do accentuate and enhance our experience of God. Lastly, to love God with our might is to love him with our physical body and ability and the resources he has given us. To love God with our body can mean using it for serving other people. 

To love God means to love him first in priority and to love him with every area of our life and being.

-Jacob Rohrer

Today’s Bible passages can be read at BibleGateway here – Matthew 22 and Mark 12

Tomorrow we will read Matthew 23 and Luke 20-21.

Love God First

1 John 2

1 John 2 15

I love cats, ice cream, and succulents. I love big, comfy sweatshirts and the smell of old books. I love a lot of things.

You’re probably thinking, “Ok, that’s nice I guess… But what do old books and weird plants have to do with anything?”

We all have things that we love. Maybe you love coffee, sports, or your phone. Fill in the blank! Loving those things is not a bad thing. In fact, many of those things can be extremely helpful in our day to day lives – until they become worldly distractions and priorities.

When repotting my succulent becomes higher on my priority list than homework, there’s a problem. When I am engulfed in a book and lose sleep to read “one more chapter,” there’s a problem. When I eat massive amounts of ice cream every day, there’s a problem.

God should be the priority – not your facebook status, not repotting your succulent, not watching a football game. Those things are nice, and it’s great that you like them, but we find that when they are higher on our list of priorities than God, there is a MAJOR issue.

I mean, God can give us immortality. He, through Jesus, forgave us despite all of our imperfections, shortcomings, and sins. He loves us, and we, as Christians, love Him. But then we go and kill two days of our life on the couch binge watching a season on Netflix instead of using that time to pray, read the Bible, or glorify Him in general.

Catch my drift?

We need to strive to make God a priority in our lives and to love Him first. Because our stuff will break, get old, wear out, be replaced – but God will never break, get old, wear out, or be replaced. When we put God as our number one priority, everything else falls into place. So love Him first.

– Madison Cisler

1 John 2 17

His Work First

Haggai

HAGGAI-ILLUSTRATION-300x208

Saturday, April 22

The prophet Haggai is among the first prophets to prophesy after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 586/587 BCE. The ministry of Haggai can be dated to happening in the year 520 BCE and his words are directed towards two people in particular: Zerubbabel the governor of Judah and Joshua the high priest (Hag.1.1). The message of the prophet is to encourage Zerubbabel and Joshua to rebuild the dilapidated and desecrated temple.

Verse four of chapter one contains what God has against the people and leaders. To paraphrase God says, ‘Why are you living in your nice comfortable homes while my house, the temple, lies still ruined?’. Now this is a different generation than the one that experienced the destruction and exile, but when they returned to the land they carried on about their concerns first before tending to the things of God, namely the temple. Zerubbabel and Joshua hear this charge from God and they take action and focus their attention on the rebuilding of the temple. God blesses their work and encourages them to continue and finish.

Do you put the things of God first or the things of you first? In my experience, when I put myself first ultimately in the end it leaves me unfilled in addition to neglecting God. However, when I put God first not only am I putting things in the right perspective but God also provides for my needs and desires. Putting the things of God first can look like: discipleship, evangelism, Bible study, prayer, pursuing holiness, and so on. When you reflect on your life are you putting yourself first or God first? Is God and the kingdom a priority for you? Be a Matthew 6.33 man or woman.

-Jacob Rohrer

 

(Photo Credit: Illustration by Liz Hagler – found at http://hookedonthebook.com/the-big-idea-of-haggai-is-the-encouragement-to-rise-up-and-rebuild-the-temple/)

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