Great Commandment, The

Jesus said the great (also termed greatest) commandment is “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: love your neighbour [others] as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these” (Mk 12:30,31). Each one naturally flows out of the other, for without a right relationship with God, our relationships with others will not be right, either. Our entire being and personality is to be consumed with continually exhibiting love to God and others; this was a major theme in the OT (Ex 20:3-17; Lev 19:18; Deut 6:5; Mic 6:8). Love is outworked in practical action; towards God, “Love for God is obeying what He says” (1 Jn 5:3); towards other people, “doing to others as you would like them to do for you” (Lk 6:31). This is the ‘golden rule’ that should govern our lives. When you are uncertain as to what to do, consider which option best demonstrates love for God and others.

When asked how could a person “inherit eternal life,” Jesus answered that it is by keeping these two commandments which summarize the Ten Commandments and the OT moral laws (Mt 22:40; Lk 10:25-28). Yet often we fail to keep these divine requirements for we can never keep God’s commandments or be righteous before Him by our own efforts. Attempting to live by a whole system of external rules and regulations in relation to others without the right foundation with God is futile, like cleansing the outside of the cup yet not addressing the filth within (Mt 23:25,26). As Christians, we strive to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and as our hearts and minds are transformed by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit we are able to begin to love others as ourselves. Yet we often fail to do so, which again drives us back to the cross of Christ in repentance and the hope of salvation that stems from the imputed righteousness of Christ and not from any merit of our own.

The great commandment of loving God and others will translate into the great commission of actively sharing the gospel with the lost, making disciples and instructing them how God requires them to live (Mt 28:18-20).

Loving God also means loving others

When we do this, we are being obedient to what He says. It also brings glory to God, who doesn’t want anyone to perish but all to come to a knowledge of Christ, besides showing love to the lost who, if we were in their predicament, would appreciate the gospel being shared with us (Ezek 33:11; 2 Pet 3:9).

See also: commandments, golden rule, great commission, love, obedience.