The Greatest Commandment
Do you want to go to Heaven? I do! The eternal banquet, angels, streets of gold, walking with the saints, music—it all sounds so exciting and wonderful. But what if Heaven were a roadside diner with terribly bitter coffee and a mean waitress who couldn’t get your order right? What if just down the street were a five-star restaurant that served everything for free? Now, what if Jesus were only ever at the diner?
Jesus told us the Greatest Commandment was Deuteronomy 6:5: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” That sounds easy enough when our Lord is offering forgiveness of sins, life eternal and a room in Heaven, where there are streets of gold and angels and an eternal banquet and music. But how do we love Him when He isn’t offering any of this? It seems that loving streets of gold, my own life, a banquet and music over just Jesus in Heaven is a bit selfish on my part.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul tells us to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). I don’t know about you, but it scares me that I might break the Greatest Commandment because I love the idea of Heaven. Could I choose just Jesus? Could I love him more than my parents, more than my future children…more than everything He has put and will put in my life?
Thankfully, Jesus tells us that if we love others because of His will, we will not lose our reward. And because “we love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19), no act of love is not without the love of God behind it.
Pray: Dear God, thank you for loving me. It is only by Your grace that I can love and serve Your creation. Help me to love today, that I might love you more. Amen.
Michael Harrell is a former staff member and current volunteer at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Federal Way, Washington, where he is responsible for teaching the faith to ninth grade students in confirmation. A writer and poet, he maintains blogs on apologetics and philosophy, and loves the Seattle Mariners for some reason no one can fathom.