Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April 1: Being extreme…

And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him a question to test him: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”  (Matthew 22:34-40  NET)

The religious leaders of Jesus' time often found fault with Him, and asked Him questions they considered difficult, in the hope that He would say something which they could use against Him. Today the same thing happens with family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors; these tests are a fact of life which we need to be prepared to deal with in a clear and effective manner, without getting irritated. Skeptics, doubters, and even haters will always exist in our circle of acquaintances, but some of them, like Paul and Nathaniel, can be saved when we answer them correctly and have the life to back it up.

Here the question was about the almost 600 commandments of the Law of Moses—which one was the greatest. Jesus answered the question quickly and plainly, and in a way that no one could criticize. In fact, He not only told them what the first commandment was, He also told them what the second one was too. His answers are true for the Law of Moses which the Jewish people lived under at that time, and for us who are Christians today.

The central thing in life is to love God in a radical manner… heart, soul, and mind. Belief and faith without this no-holds-barred attitude is corrupt and useless. All the teachings and commandments of Jesus can be classified under: Love for God and Love for Neighbor. If God is first in our lives, we will serve Him and worship Him; we will obey His commandments and make an effort to please Him. And if we truly love God, we will love our fellow-man. But remember, the love that God calls us to have is not some milk-toast, wimpy kind of love that wants to be liked by everyone. True love for God puts us at war with the world and with Satan. True love for God means that we are ready to fight sin, demons, the devil, sickness, passivity, complacency and everything else that wants to turn our love into a mutant, wimpy, touchy-feely monster that make us weak instead of strong.

The detailed laws and commandments of the Old Testament against stealing, lying, and adultery are simply God’s way of teaching us how to show love to the people around us. Jesus once said, "In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you." What we are talking about here is true faith—any other “faith” is false! Loving and obeying God to the extreme (which includes hating sin and the devil), and being kind and helpful towards others, even our enemies (which is an attack on Satan and demons), are the path of life eternal. So let’s concentrate on these Two Greatest Laws of God. Don't make the mistake that many make—having “faith” and being “holy” but not loving God or other people to the extreme.

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