February 3: “The Two Most Important Rules”

Today’s Bible Reading:

Exodus 17:8-19:15
Matthew 22:34-23:12
Psalm 27:7-14
Proverbs 6:27-35

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT): “Jesus replied, ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Have you ever wished that you could boil all of the Bible’s laws down to a handful of “dos” and “don’ts?” Of course, you have. The list of instructions that we are called to comply with is extensive.

Fortunately, Jesus did just that. He boiled all of the commands of Scripture down to two simple instructions.

In Matthew 22:34-36, we read about an expert in the law who went to Jesus. He wanted to embarrass Jesus in front of everyone by asking a simple question that he thought would be impossible to answer.

Matthew 22:36 (NLT): “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

This “expert” believed that he was boxing Jesus into a corner with this question. He suspected that regardless of how Jesus answered, He was going to divide the crowd. Virtually everyone had their own opinions about what the most important law was … and everyone’s opinion differed from everyone else.

So, what was Jesus to do? He could have refused to answer, but that would have made Him look weak and indecisive. He had to answer. But how? What was the greatest commandment?

Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT): “Jesus replied, ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

In saying this, Jesus took the hundreds of biblical commands and shrunk them down to two. Love God with everything you’ve got, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.

The word “love” that Jesus used did not necessarily speak of the emotion. It primarily refers to submitting oneself to someone else. In human relations, it pointed to the willingness to focus on someone else’s needs, even if it meant personal sacrifice. 

So, we love God by submitting ourselves to Him and serving/worshiping Him from our hearts. We love others by submitting ourselves to them and providing for their needs, as we are led by God’s Holy Spirit, even if it costs us something.

But, notice the last verse. Jesus said that “the entire law and all of the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” That means that none of God’s commands is whimsical. They aren’t a mindless assembly of “dos” and “don’ts.” They are based on the primary mentality of submitting ourselves to God and others.

As we read through the books of the Old Testament laws, look at them through the lens that Jesus provides. Assume that each law is either a manifestation of love for God or a sacrificial love for others. And then try to determine which of the two Greatest Commandments it aligns with. The law, as harsh as it sometimes appears, is ultimately an expression of love.

Imagine what it would be like to be a part of a church (and a larger Christian community) where everyone obeyed these two commands! They sincerely loved and served the Lord, and they were always putting others above themselves. Wouldn’t that be Heaven on earth?

Well, we can work toward that today. On this day, ask God to help you grow in your obedience to these two primary commandments.

Photo by Stephen Mayes on Unsplash

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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