Of all the commandments, which is the most important? Mark 12:28c (NLT)
As if the number of laws in the Old Testament were not enough, the religious rulers in Jesus day had accumulated some 613 more laws by one historian’s count! Talk about legalism gone wild! With that many additions to the law, religious leaders debated among themselves as to the major and minor laws while others taught that all the laws were equally binding and you couldn’t make any distinctions. So, it was no surprise when one of the teachers of religious law came up to Jesus and asked Him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” I can imagine everyone within earshot began to lean in so they could hear how Jesus would respond.
Jesus’ answer summed up the entire law and all the demands of the prophets in two basic statements: Love God and Love others. He said,
The most important commandment is this: “Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” The second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” No other commandment is greater than these.
Jesus just gave us the Cliff Notes on the whole Old Testament!
These two commands are best expressed in worship: loving God, and service: loving others. When you love God and care for others as you would care for yourself, Jesus said you have fulfilled the intent of the Ten Commandments, let alone all the other oral traditions and laws these religious leaders had added to them. Love is the most important thing! God not only loves, He is love. And, when we love, the Bible says we are a child of God and know God.
But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:8 (NLT)
Love is the essence of genuine faith. Real faith isn’t about rules as much as it is about relationships. Religion emphasizes rules. Christianity emphasizes love. Do you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength or do you just go through the motions of some religious ritual? Do you love others as yourself? When we worship, we demonstrate our love for God and we serve God best by serving others in His name. This week, look for ways to express your love for God and others.