What is Love? The Greatest Commandments - Part 2

“But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

In Part 1 of this devotion, we talked about how Christ’s characteristics depict love.  In Part 2, I want to share how we’re called to be Christ-like by loving.  Moses received the Ten Commandments directly from God and shared them with the Israelites.   These Commandments are actually a recipe for a love potion.  If we follow the directions closely, we will be Christ-like and find it easier to have intimacy with God as well as loving caring relationships with each other.

The Greatest Commandment

The first four commandments indicate how God wants to interact with His people:

1. You shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3).

2. You shall not make any idols (Exodus 20:4).

3. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God (Exodus 20:7).

4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy (Exodus 20:8).

Jesus summed up these first four commandments by saying “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Matthew 22:38).

He referred to this as the First and Greatest Commandment.  If we follow the first four commandments, we show our love for our Creator.  If we love God, no other god (money, things, and people) would be desired.  We know how powerful God’s name is, so our love for Him should ensure that we worship, hallow and fiercely protect it.  Our desire to please the One we love should make us obediently rest from our toil – just like He did (Genesis 2:2).

The Second Greatest Commandment

The second set of commandments, numbering six in all, detail how we are supposed to lovingly treat each other.  They give us some parameters that enable us to live peacefully with each other and to develop healthy loving relationships.

The next six commandments are rules and regulations for loving interpersonal relationships:

5. Honor your father and mother (Exodus 20:12).

6. You shall not murder (Exodus 20: ).

7.You shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:13).

8. You shall not steal (Exodus 20:15).

9. You shall not give false testimony (Exodus 20:16).

10.  You shall not covet (Exodus 20:17).

Jesus indicated that the second commandment was similar to the first, “And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

Our primary relationship is with our parents.  The love we have for them sets the tone on how we will treat others.  People with little or no respect for their parents generally have little or no respect for anyone else; especially authority figures.   Loving others ensures that we value every aspect of their lives.

When we love someone we would never dream of murdering them physically.  And yet we are sometimes guilty of murdering others with our words, our body language or our thoughts.  When we love, we encourage physical, mentally, emotionally or spiritually health.

Our love for others allows us to be honest and trust worthy.  This ensures that we do no harm including and especially anything that would compromise a marriage. “What God has joined, let man not separate” (Mark 10:9). It also means that we don’t take things that don’t belong to us.  It means that we don’t lie to them or about them.

Finally for a relationship to genuinely show love, we must not have secret desires to possess the things that other people own.   How can we show our love for them when we’re more concerned about what they have and what we don’t.  We demonstrate the love we have in our hearts by being honestly happy when they are blessed and rejoicing when they succeed.

We are called to be Christ-like in everything we do.  The best way to do that is to start with love and end with love.  We show love by embracing Jesus’ instructions to first love God and then love our neighbors as ourselves.

“All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40)

In Part 3 – We’ll discuss God’s love for the World (John 3:16).