In Matthew 22:23-34 we read that Jesus was challenged and tempted by the Sadducees through their contemptuous questions, and that subsequently he shamed them into silence through his answers to their questions. In Matthew 22:35-40 we then read that a Pharisee lawyer tempted Jesus with the following question, “Master [Teacher], which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus responded with,
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
As I have studied and meditated upon Jesus’ response, it has become very clear that for us to truly love God and our neighbor requires that we surrender our heart, soul, and mind (in other words, our whole being) unto the Lord. But you might now ask, “What does it mean to surrender my ‘whole being’ unto the Lord? After all, I do ‘love’ the Lord.” It will be most difficult for one to answer the call to surrender one’s “whole being” unto the Lord – if one does not comprehend the depths of the Lord’s love for the individual.
Carefully consider the following psalm. Psalms 91:1-16,
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.”
This psalm specifically declares the state of the godly; their safety in the hands of the Lord; their habitation; their servants; their friends: with the effects of them all.
To fully understand this passage you must experience the Lord’s presence in your life every day; in the good times and the bad times. As you are nurtured of the Lord and grow in Him, your love for the Lord will also grow – so much so that you will love Him with your “whole being”. Equally true, through your love unto the Lord, you will surrender your life unto His service – and the outpouring of His love and His life in yours will result in you loving your neighbor as yourself. Let it be understood here that “loving your neighbor as yourself” does not mean “loving them through the window blinds”. It means loving them such that you are willing to go to them (as Christ came to you) and sharing God’s great love unto them. This is the essence of what is stated in Romans 12:1,
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
If your love for your neighbor is weak and inconsistent, could it be that it is because you are reflecting your relationship with the Lord? May each one of us choose to hunger and thirst after His righteousness – whereby, we may truly love the Lord with our whole being, and our neighbor as ourselves.