We know that the man who asked Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?” was a Pharisee, but we do not know his motives, or his response to Jesus’ answers. It’s as though Matthew leaves space for us to ponder what effect the Lord’s words had on him. Likewise for us, the simplicity of Jesus’ summary of the Law challenges us at a deep level: Do we understand the salvation that God offers us? Do we want it?
The Greatest Commandment is a Great Promise
The twin commandments to love God and love our neighbour become a promise for all who believe, by the grace of God all Christians will one day love God perfectly and overflow with love to others, as Christ has loved us. Even now God is changing us to be like Christ. Do you understand how wonderful that is? If we grasp this incredible promise every other part of our life falls into line as we are filled with a desire to have it as fully as possible, to take hold of Christ for that which he has taken hold of us. We need to ask God to continually reveal to us the scale of our salvation so that we can be filled with all the fullness of Christ. (Eph 3:16-19)
A Simple Choice
The simplicity of the command reveals the simple choice at the heart of the Christian life: do you want to give every part of your life in love to God or not? The Pharisees thought that they only had to give parts of their life to God, and as a result their obedience was worthless – they loved the law, but they didn’t love the righteousness it pointed to; they loved the signposts, but they didn’t love the destination. In the broadest sense the Christian life is simply bringing every part of our lives to God, our heart, mind and soul, to God and asking him to show us how to love him with it. This simplicity presents us with the same challenge as the Pharisees: do you want to give every part of your life to God or not? Every part of our life that isn’t given to God is ultimately wasted.
Is there some part of your life that you kind of think has nothing to do with loving God, some part where you think you can’t glorify him, or enjoy him? God can show you how if you ask him.
Is there some part of your life that you are holding back from God, an area you are not giving to him because you’re afraid of where it will lead? Without him that part of your life will end up being worthless, but with him, it will give him glory and you great joy.
Is there some part of your life where you have wanted to love god, but you’ve given up because you can not figure out how to do it? God promises to give us wisdom and strength to obey him if we ask.