By Pastor Matt Ellis
One day, a lawyer came to Jesus and asked what the greatest commandment was. Even though he asked the question to corner Jesus, it was a great question.
After all, there were hundreds and hundreds of laws when you consider all of the commands in the Old Testament and the ones the religious leaders had added. The answer to this question was the topic of intense debate among the religious leaders of that day.
Here's how Matthew 22:35-38 records the conversation. "And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?' And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.'"
The question would have been a great one if it hadn't been asked with wrong motives. The lawyer was essentially saying: "There are so many commands that I can't remember them all much less obey them. Which one is so basic and essential that if I got everything else wrong, I need to get that one right?"
Jesus took the question seriously and gave a serious answer. The greatest and most important command is to love God with everything we've got.
That's pretty straight forward. But that begs the question ... "how?" How do we love God with all of our heart, soul and mind?
In a society where we talk of falling in love or falling out of love, we equate love with a fleeting emotion. Is that what Jesus is calling us to? If so, what about those godly men and women who aren't the affectionate type? Can they obey the Greatest Commandment?
To understand how we love Jesus, all we need to do is search the Scriptures to find out how He wants us to love Him. We can rest easy that we don't have to look far and wide. Jesus gave the answer repeatedly in one of His discourses no doubt to make sure His audience got the message.
Let me share with you what He said about how we are to love Him:
John 14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (emphasis added)
John 14:21 "Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me..." (emphasis added)
John 14:23-24 "...If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words..." (emphasis added)
Jesus' words are clear, aren't they? If we love him, we'll obey Him. If we don't want to love him, we'll disobey. Obedience = love. Disobedience = failure to love. It's that simple.
Do you want to love Jesus with all of your heart, soul and mind and thus comply with the Greatest Commandment? Simply commit to the Lordship of Christ.
Realize that while you are God's child, you are also His slave (Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1; Revelation 1:1). He is your master. You don't belong to yourself because you were bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). That's slave talk!
What do slaves do? It's really not that complicated. Slaves simply obey.
Show Him you love Him by diligently studying His Word and then complying with everything He commands.
And one little secret - when you develop a lifestyle of obedience, the feelings of love for the Lord will almost certainly come.
Pastor Matt Ellis is Senior Pastor at the First Baptist Church in Brooksville, Florida. Follow him on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/mattellis1997.