November 4 (Daily reading: Matthew 22; Mark 12) Today’s commentary is adapted from my book, “We Love Because God First Loved Us,” pages 35-36.
As a Jewish boy, Jesus grew up knowing the greatest commandment from Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” He also knew Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He knew these Scriptures even better than you and I know John 3:16. He quoted them from His mind and His heart when He was asked by an expert in Jewish law what was the greatest commandment (Mt. 22:34-40). By putting the two commandments together, and stating that the second was like the first, Jesus elevated the significance of the commandment to love your neighbor. The relationship between God and man must take priority, but the relationship between people follows closely in importance. The two are tied together. When you love God with all your heart, you will not have a problem loving your neighbors. You will understand that they are made in the image of God.
Paul wrote that observing this second commandment would be the fulfillment of “the whole law.” “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Gal. 5:14). The “one word” in the statement is “love.” When we are honest with ourselves, we recognize how difficult it can be to love those who are “unlovable.” We might think that we would have more time to devote ourselves to God’s work if we did not have to deal with all these unlovable people! But how can the “unlovable” know that God loves them if they do not see His love in us? And the way they see God’s love in us is through our actions and attitudes toward them, the “unlovable.”
– Al Gary