One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall 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, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbour as oneself”,—this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that no one dared to ask him any question.
When we think about what is important, what we need, we’ll often jump first to things like Food, Water, Clothing, Shelter. Sometimes we’ll get a little further and think of Security or Personal Safety. Rarely do we get as far as needs like Friendship, Companionship, Love.
There are many commandments and rules set down in the Old Testament, governing everything from our Food, Water and Clothing, to our Security. However, when challenged, it is not these obvious essentials that Jesus gives us as paramount, but one which is far harder, the commandment to Love. To Love God with every part of our being: body, soul, spirit and mind. To Love our neighbours as we Love ourselves.
The commandment to Love is the most important, and yet often the most difficult. Love takes time and effort. Love means caring about someone even when you don’t like them very much. Love sees past flaws and Loves despite them. Love bears disappointments, setbacks and difficulties. It is not easy.
How much time do we put into Loving God, despite setbacks in our lives, when we feel like He isn’t there?
How much time do we put into Loving others, when they have upset us, when they annoy us, when they hurt us?
How much time do we put into Loving ourselves, despite our flaws, our failings, our hectic lives?
The first commandment is to Love: how often do we put it first?