Thought for February 16th. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your soul, mind and strength…’
“LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR …”
Can we know some sayings of Jesus too well? It is possible to get to know some things so well that we cease to let them dwell in our thoughts very much – moving on to what we may see as more profound matters. We wonder who the unnamed scribe was who came to Jesus – having heard his fellow scribes were “disputing with one another” after Jesus “answered them well” [Mark 12 v.28] as we read today. We would like to imagine that he became a disciple – sooner or later.
This scribe asks, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus says it is, “Here O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one”[v.29]. But then he states the most important principle in all the Scriptures, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and will all your mind and with all your strength.” Draw a breath – and read that again – slowly.
Our world is full of knowledge – of knowing a massive array of facts and information- but they are often far from wise in the way they use that knowledge. How much real love – as Jesus defines it – is there in our world?
Now Jesus most significantly adds a sort of codicil to that first commandment which was not in the commandments given at Sinai that we read last week in Exodus 20. Jesus says, “The second is this; ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ ‘ [v.31]
This provokes a comment by this scribe who says, “You are right teacher” and he restates what Jesus has said about loving God “with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength” [v.33] and to “love one’s neighbour as oneself” [v.33] is of far more value, says the scribe, than offering sacrifices.
Of course there is a reference to the need to love your neighbour ‘buried’ in Leviticus 19 v.18. Let us recall how James, in his epistle challenges believers, “If you really fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself, you are doing well” [2 v.8] What a difference that “royal law” would make to this world – but you cannot “command” love.
Jesus commends this scribes’ wise answer and tells him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” [v.34] We must each ask ourselves, ‘Would be say the same to me?’ In searching our hearts to imagine the answer we need to ask, is my knowledge of God only an intellectual one? If we really ‘know’ God then our names are recorded in his book of life and the words of John 17 v.3 will resonate in our minds.