What is the greatest and most important commandment in the law?
There may be millions of laws in the world today (from different nations) governing their own people’s moves and actions. In everything we do, there is a law that governs it. As I write this article, I may be governed by the laws relating to media and the press. I am also bounded by the commandments of God, which include not to lie, not to go beyond what is written, not to be iniquitous, and other commandments pertaining to preaching. Now, I can tell that it is very important to know the commandment that is above all commandments. This is the commandment that is the foundation of all commandments and laws. So what is it?
In the books of Mark and Matthew, we can read what Jesus Christ has answered when He was asked what the greatest and most important commandment is in the law. Loving God with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds and all our strengths is the greatest of all commandments. The second is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. As we read, we can understand that all the laws and commandments are founded on love – and the greatest of these is to love the greatest One, whom is our Almighty God.
Mark 12:28-31 (NIV)
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. ‘The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Matthew 22:34-40 (NIV)
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
These two greatest commandments are the roots of all God’s laws and commandments. They are necessary for us to have salvation and eternal life.
Luke 10:25-27 (NIV)
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
In the Old Testament, God has already commanded us to love our neighbors.
Leviticus 19:18 (NIV)
‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
Loving our neighbors doesn’t mean loving only our friends or the people who are living with us in the same town or nation. The Lord has commanded us to love even our enemies and people who needs our help.
Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Luke 6:27-36 (NIV)
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Romans 12:17-21 (NIV)
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
As it is written love is the fulfillment of the law.
Romans 13:9 (NIV)
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
To love God with all our heart, mid, soul, life and strength is the greatest commandment of all. This is because if we love God this way, we can be able to obey all of His commandments: loving our neighbor, avoiding lies, deceit, adultery, murder, et cetera. As it written, if you love God, you must follow His commandments. If a person cannot love his neighbor whom he sees, how much more can he love God who is invisible?
1 John 4:20 (NIV)
If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
John 14:15 (NIV)
“If you love me, you will obey what I command.