No Substitutes Allowed
I heard a conversation on the radio this morning about the greatest commandment. One of the announcers admitted responding incorrectly recently that it was “love your neighbor as yourself.” She was then reminded that the Greatest commandment is “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This little slip on her part prompted a thought with me on what I see happening in our society both in political and religious circles.
We are told in scripture that we show our love for God by loving others. Matthew 22:40 goes on to say that all the law hangs on these two commandments. Let me repeat that; all the law hangs on these two commandments. Can we love others without loving God? Not really, but we can sure look like we do.
More and more people are jumping on the social justice band wagon today who appear to love others, and in a worldly sense they do. But godly love is much deeper than standing up for civil rights and free choice on certain issues, or pushing programs that attempt to care for the less fortunate. I’m not saying social justice issues aren’t important. They are very important. They are part of loving others.
The problem comes in when we focus more on loving others than loving God. The second commandment is not a substitute for the first; it is the result of the first, as are some other things mentioned in the Bible. John tells us in Jn 14:15, 21, 23; 1 John 5:3; and 2 John 6 that if we love God, we will keep His commands.
We must understand that the commands in Matthew 22 are further explained through the rest of God’s word. Little by little the scriptures come together to paint a picture of what God expects of us, what loving Him means, and what loving others means. We can’t gain entry to heaven by doing good for others. We must do all we can to care for people and all of God’s creation, but we must also strive to obey all God’s word through our love for Him first. When it comes to loving God, there are no substitutes allowed.