Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC

Matthew 22:34-40
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 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. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Here Jesus is being put on the spot in front of a crowd by a religious know-it-all. Nobody likes a know-it-all. The story is told of a professor, a preacher, and a boy scout who were riding on a small plane together when the plane began to experience trouble. The pilot screamed back at them, “We’re going down boys! We’re gonna have to jump!” Well, there were only two parachutes for the three in the back. The professor grabbed a pack and said, “I’m the most intelligent guy at my university, my students need me!” and out he jumped. The preacher looked over at the boy and said, “Son, here take the last parachute. I’ll just lean on the Lord.” To which the boy scout replied, “Don’t worry preacher, there’s still one for me and one for you. That big know-it-all grabbed my backpack!”

Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. Jesus reminds the religious elitist here about what is most important, and at the end of it all what matters most is love. In this passage Jesus speaks of 3 loves for life, and in these, he says all the law and the prophets rely. The first love is LOVE FOR GOD. Jesus said the most important command is to love God. In other words, that’s what salvation is all about; it’s about knowing and loving God. When you love someone you trust what they say, you spend time with them, you appreciate them, and you want to serve them. The same is true when you love God. You worship Him with gratitude and obedience to His commands. You trust what He says completely. How do you express your love to the Lord? The word ALL is the key here. Jesus said it’s an all or nothing endeavor to love the Lord.

The second love in this passage is LOVE FOR OTHERS. Jesus said during his earthly ministry that the world will know we are His disciples by how we love one another (John 13:35). John wrote in 1 John 4:8 that anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love. When you turn from sin and trust in Christ, the Holy Spirit of God comes to reside in you and the love of God is poured out in your heart. This shows itself in how you love others. Loving others encompasses every relational command in the Bible because it directs how you think, speak, and act toward other people.

The third love is LOVE FOR YOURSELF. Now, I know that sounds a little narcissistic and egotistical, but hear me out. Jesus said here to love your neighbor AS YOURSELF. This simply means to find your identity in the love of God. Love yourself enough to repent and trust in Christ. Love your own soul enough to submit to Christ. Think about it, if the God who made the Universe, who knows the good, bad, and ugly about you, LOVES YOU, then how can you not forgive or love yourself? Know today that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ and rest in His unchanging love! You are blessed and highly favored and you are secure in Him! This is not self-esteem; it’s Christ esteem. Agree with what He says about you and love others with confidence. In fact, the point here is if you don’t rest in God’s love toward you, the emotional and psychological security to love others will escape you.

Love….that’s what matters. Rest in the love of God today and show that same love toward a lost and dying world!

Father God, thank you for loving me first. Thank you for sending Christ to die for my sins on the cross although I have spurned Your love so many times with how I think, speak, and act. Today, I choose to love you with all that I am. I choose to show this love to others. I thank you that I can love because I am loved. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

Romans 8:38-39
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.