What is the purpose of God's law and commandments? The Pharisees prided themselves in the knowledge of the law of Moses and the ritual requirements of the law. They made it a life-time practice to study the 613 precepts of the Torah - the books of the Old Testament containing the Law of Moses - along with the numerous rabbinic commentaries on the law. The religious authorities tested Jesus to see if he correctly understood the law as they did. Jesus startled them with his profound simplicity and mastery of the law of God and its purpose.
Jesus summarized the whole of the law in two great commandments found in Deuteronomy 6:5 - "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might" - and Leviticus 19:18 - "you shall love your neighbor as yourself". God's love directs all that he does - His love is holy, just, and pure because it seeks only what is good, beneficial, and life-giving - rather than what is destructive, evil, or deadly. That is why he commands us to love - to accept and to give only what is good, lovely, just, and pure and to reject whatever is contrary.
God loved us first (1 John 4:19) and our love for him is a response to his exceeding goodness and kindness towards us. The love of God comes first, and the love of neighbor is firmly grounded in the love of God. The more we know of God's love, truth, and goodness, the more we love what he loves and reject whatever is hateful and contrary to his will. God commands us to love him first above all else - his love orients and directs our thoughts, intentions, and actions to what is wholly good and pleasing to him. He wants us to love him personally, wholeheartedly, and without any reservation or compromise.
How can we love God above all else and obey his commandments willingly and joyfully, and how can we love our neighbor and willing lay down our life for their sake? Paul the Apostle tells us that "hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us" (Romans 5:5). We do not earn God's love - it is freely given to those who open their heart to God and who freely accept the gift of the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord Jesus to flood your heart with his love through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Today’s Question for Prayer and Reflection
Do you allow anything to keep you from the love of God and the joy of serving others with a generous heart?