Friday, January 8, 2016

These Two Commandments

I've recently been taking several looks into the "law" under which the people lived in Old Testament times.  Close examination will cause any student of the Scriptures to wonder how the people kept up with all those rules?  Add to that the things that found their way into the same level of importance as the law, which were merely traditions.  What started out as the Ten Commandments, mushroomed into countless other rules and standards by which the people were expected to live. 

Good news came along when Jesus rolled everything into two basic commandments which were given as the answer to a question he was asked.  Here is the account from Matthew 22:

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’    38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’   40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Catch the importance of that.  Jesus was asked the question about which is the greatest commandment in the Law.  It had to be a surprise to everyone that heard, when he gave, not one commandment, but two.  The greatest is to love God, and the second greatest is to love your neighbor.

Now hang on to your hat, but Jesus goes on to say it is on these two commandments that ALL the law and the prophets are based.  Some have difficulty accepting that.  The legalist would rather have  a long list of "do and do not do" so we could go down the list and check off the things we should be doing and making sure we don't step over the line and do something we aren't supposed to do. 

Then the legalist might even quote some Scripture like the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:48, "You must be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect."   I am sure I would have no trouble convincing you I am not perfect.  Another bit of news you might have difficulty in accepting is that you are not perfect either. The truth of our imperfection is one of the things that leads us in the direction of Jesus.

Now follow closely, and maybe you should read and reread all of this several times.   When Jesus came and lived among men, his life and his teaching all had a central point of focus.  That central point was his ultimate death, burial and resurrection.  Allow the picture to continue to unfold for you as you realize that Jesus, the perfect and sinless one, died for us, paying the debt for our sins.  So when my sin-stained life is washed clean by Jesus' blood, my imperfection is covered by his perfection. 

As much as I try to always be the person that honors God and the person whose life demonstrates a totally committed love for God, I sometimes fail.  And I really have problems loving my neighbor as I love myself.  So here I am, a sinner, failing on occasion, stumbling because of my weakness.  But I am covered by the blood of Jesus and that covering doesn't magnify my imperfection, it magnifies his perfection.

Lord, help me to daily be aware of your love.  Live in me to help my entire being show my love for you, and my love for my neighbor.  Amen.


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