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Think for a few minutes about all of the things that people argue about in 2020. Discussions can be quite heated and often end up injuring relationships and personal feelings.
The Pharisee who questioned Jesus, attempted to draw him into a debate that was designed to divide the crowd and make Jesus look bad in the process. There were 316 different commands in the Five Books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).
People differed over which one was most important, just as people differ over contentious issues today.
The Pharisee, someone who was an expert in the law, said to Jesus, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
Before we get to Jesus’ answer, let’s be clear. The Pharisee didn’t want information, he wanted to trap Jesus and to embarrass him. He wanted to put Jesus on the spot and have him splinter the crowd into different divisive factions.
Jesus answered the Pharisee from a passage in Deuteronomy 6, a Bible truth that faithful Jews recited on a daily basis. He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment” (Matthew 22.34-38).
He, then, added a second commandment from Leviticus 19.18. He said, “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22.39-40).
What Are We Arguing About?
We are living at a time where people are literally screaming at one another about their rights. They want to be right and demand that other people affirm that they are correct in their views.
Whether people are demanding rights over social, economic, political or religious issues, the arguments rage on.
In recent weeks, I have been reading material about people who are living on the very bottom of society in our world. Some of them are slaves, many work in sweat shops, some occupy the urban core of American cities, and still others are displaced from their homes by war. Add together all of the people in these groups of the most disadvantaged persons in the world and they number in the millions.
There are many proposed solutions to these massive problems. Yesterday, I read an article that outlined various solutions that were proposed over the past century. Every one of these supposed solutions was fraught with even more problems.
When I finally got to the last page of the chapter, the author said what I had been thinking throughout the article. He wrote that until we change the inner character of persons, every solution will leave the most disadvantaged in misery and hopelessness.
Extreme poverty and deprivation of basic human needs is possibly the largest issue in the world, but it is largely unexamined by the average American. What about all of the other issues that we do argue about? Again, until the human inner self is changed, our solutions will fail.
Love Is The Answer!
Jesus not only answered the Pharisee’s question about the Law. He also gave us a two commandment solution to the many issues that our world faces.
Mike Hempel is an excellent example of someone who has been changed by the love of God. He once was a problem, but the love of God has now made him a problem-solver for people in his life. Below is post from Mike’s Facebook page on September 11. As you read his thoughts, consider how our loving God changed his inside condition.
Mike writes, “This friend of mine has lived a parallel life to me and we both were able to get our lives together through the blessings and grace of Jesus Christ.
“My friend is helping his ex, got her in some recovery, and is also talking to her 18 year old son.
“Yesterday my friend said to me, ‘My testimony is starting to get good isn’t it?’
“Then I had a light bulb turn on in my head and here it is.
“We are not supposed to be drug addicts, or watch porn, or rob from people. We are not supposed to drink a case of beer every night, or be all gangster.
“After we are able to stop all that sillyness is when we are simply normal. We are only caught up with the rest of the world. We shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back for doing what we are supposed to do.
“It’s when we are able to extend our hand out to someone in the ditch, or encourage people that don’t deserve it, or allow our heart to lead us instead of our pride.
“That is in my eye’s is when ‘our testimonies gets good.'”
Mike’s heart, and that of many other of my friends, has been transformed by the love of God that he experienced through the saving grace of Jesus. When they follow the two commandments that Jesus gave us, their lives and the lives of people around them change for the better.
Two Commandments That Compliment Each Other
Rufus Moseley reminds us that it is easy to God. He is the greatest Being of all. He is devoted to us with an unfailing love. When we see God through his Son, Jesus, he is has the best personality of anyone and exudes joy and peace.
If there were only the first commandment, we could enjoy fellowship with God in a way that may even border on selfishness.
Jesus presented another commandment that brings fullness to the love of God. He tells us to love the people all around us with a love that equals the love we have for ourselves.
I don’t know about you, but I really love myself. I think about myself all of time. I measure my appreciation of other people by the way they treat me. I work to make my life as good as it can be. My guess is that you are like this, too.
As I love people like Jesus taught us, I must think about them all of the time, too. I need to appreciate them the way I want to be appreciated. I also need to seek their welfare as much as I seek my own welfare. Wow! And that’s just the beginning!
Going back to the issue of solutions to problems that are raging in our world – differing solutions that are often the basis for heated arguments and more. What if every Christian obeyed the two commandments Jesus gave to us? What if we loved God so much that he changed our inside condition? What if we loved other people with the same kind of care and appreciation that we give ourselves? Let’s try it out and see what happens.
Dear Jesus, thank you for being so easy to love. Thank you for loving us and drawing us into your love. May your love be so real to us that we love you in return with all our being. May we also extend that love to everyone with whom we come into contact.