When He was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?”, Yeshua responded; “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Upon these two commandments we base our lives.
How can we best demonstrate our love for God? This we can do by honoring God and putting Him first in our lives, “you shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3, NAS). This is the most primary of all relationships. If we are unwilling to put God first in everything we cannot hope to have our other priorities in right order. Adam and Eve quickly discovered that by disrupting their relationship to God, every other relationship was disrupted too.
If we are to truly love God we must also be obedient to His commands. How can we call Him Lord if we are unwilling to obey Him? This may at times mean doing things which we may not understand. Yet we do them none the less because we trust in Him to do what is best for us despite our misgivings. God has promised us that His commandments are for our blessing. If we love and trust Him we will do what He says.
To love our neighbor we endeavor to show care and concern for one another’s needs, particularly the needs of the poor and the weak. God gives abundance to some that they might share with those who have little. Real love is reflected in sharing what God has blessed us with, with others.
Our love is reflected in our way of speaking with and about each other. Our words have the power to wound or to heal. Too often our words are used to gain advantage and power over another, usually resulting in suffering and pain. If we would truly be loving people our words should be used instead to restore one another to life and blessing. Love will also always deal justly with others. True love demands fairness and equity, to treat all people regardless of their station in life with the same kindness and consideration.
This love of others must extend even to the stranger, the one who is not us. If we love only ourselves and those who are like us, what are we really, as Yeshua says; “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? “And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matt 5:43-47, NAS) All people are made in the image of God and for that reason if for no other they are worthy of our love. So it is that God’s commands prescribe that we treat all with the same love and consideration.