Lord, guide our thoughts and strengthen our faith that we might love and serve you as you command. Amen. Mark 12:28-31 (NIV)
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 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: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Some time ago I was asked, ‘If your home was about to be consumed in a fire, and you could only save one of your earthly possessions, what would you choose?’ That question seems similar to the one that the teacher of the law is asking Jesus about the laws in the Old Testament.
Jesus responds by pointing him to the Shema Yisrael, which is the Hebrew for ‘Listen, Israel’ and shorthand for the declaration found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 in which Moses writes, ‘The Lord our God, the Lord is one.’ Observant Jews are taught to recite these words every morning when they awake and each evening before the fall asleep.
In the answer Jesus gives, the declaration carries the implication, that we love the Lord with our total being and our neighbor as our selves. I know that on my own that is an impossible request. But I am told in Matthew 19, “with God all things are possible.’ It is only as I fully grasp the love that Jesus has for me and experience the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, that I have the power within me to love the Lord and neighbor as Jesus requires. I’m not perfect. Yet when I fail, I have God’s promise to forgive me when I am truly sorry and His promise to walk with me when I try again.
Lord, thank you for your love today. Thanks you for opportunities to demonstrate my love for you by sharing that love with those around me. Amen.