We live in a culture that wants simple steps—concrete principles that will guarantee success. Our bookstores are full of “Five Easy Steps to…” and “Ten Ways to…” books.
In the passage below, the religious leaders asked Jesus to reduce the law to something simple. Jesus responded with the call to love God and love people. He made it simple, yet it’s hard for us to simply check these things off our “To-Do” lists.
- How do you know when someone has really loved you?
READ THE WORD: MARK 12:28-34 (ESV)
28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And 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.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Describe what the passage says about how we are to love God.
- Give one practical way that you could love God with a) your heart, b) your soul, c) your mind, and d) your strength.
- What are some of the activities we do to show that we love people?
- We know what it looks like to love our family, but what does it look like to “love your neighbor as yourself”?
RESPOND TO GOD
The scribes had over 600 rules to follow in order to be considered righteous, so asking which was most important may have been a reasonable question. But Jesus refuses to let us turn our faith into a list of rules instead of a whole-life relationship with him. It’s all about a relationship. And healthy relationships take time and attention and effort.
- Ask God to show you ways that you try to minimize your relationship with him to a list of activities that you can easily check off.
- Pray for the people you consider neighbors in your life. Ask God to show you ways you can practically love them today.