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The Greatest Commandment

A lawyer asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was and Jesus gave this reply in Luke 10: 25-28:

25 And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"   26 And He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?"   27 And he answered, "YOU SHALL 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 YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."   28 And He said to him, "You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE." 

The lawyer, Jesus tells us, answered his own question correctly.   Our first and foremost commandment is to love God with all that we have.  The lawyer had asked about inheriting eternal life.   All of us want to be in heaven, but Jesus tells us in this teaching of Christianity, you don’t have to wonder about it, the truth came from Jesus about eternal life.   Jesus points the way for us.  Our focus must be on God.  We must love God with all that make us people; our heart, our soul, our strength and our thoughts.   Simply put, God must be first in our life.   Now, that does not mean you exclude other people you love.  In fact, you will find your love for them will deepen as you put into practice the teachings of Christianity.   But God must be first in your life.    Many Christians will tell you that when you do apply this principal; relationships with family and friends improve.

Then we are told to love our neighbor as ourselves.   In the verses following the above passage, Jesus tells us a parable known as “The Good Samaritan”.   In this parable, a man is beaten by robbers and left half dead.   Two religious leaders of that day, a Priest and a Levite went to the other side of the road to avoid the man.   But a total stranger, a Samaritan, takes the stranger to an Inn, attends to his wounds and helps nurse him back to health, without ever uttering a harsh word or complaint.    Jesus then asked which of these three men proved to be his neighbor.   The lawyer answered “The one who showed mercy toward him”.   Jesus then told him, “Go and do the same”.

We often think of our neighbor as the person next door, or across the street or down the street.   They are, but Jesus’ teaching here is not that limited.   The Samaritan was on a journey, so he wasn’t in his neighborhood.   He came upon a complete stranger and helped him without question or reservation.  Now that is a good, kind, loving and caring heart.  Jesus tells us to help people in the same way.   Our neighbor is anyone we come into contact with.   As we love God, we are to love each other.    

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