“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”Matthew 22:37
The first and greatest commandment, yet seemingly so general and vague. Surely out of the ten commands given on Mt. Sinai, Jesus could have chosen a more detailed and specific response. However, Jesus doubles down on the perceived ambiguity by revealing the second commandment is similar, to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)
Why? Why such a vague response by human standards? Was it because the question was a trap? Was it because He did not know? Was it because His ranking of commandments could be seen as arbitrary? Or, was it something deeper?
The question was undoubtedly a trap, asked of Him during the Passion Week in a series of questions by the Sadducees, Pharisees, and scribes. However, Jesus wasn’t shy about such questions and repeatedly answered the near unanswerable queries of men. What about His knowledge? That would not be an issue either as at the age of 12, Jesus amazed those in the temple with His understanding. (Luke 2:47) Ranking commandments can also be ruled out as Jesus ranked loving God above loving others in His very response. So, what is the reason?
The reason is simple, yet so much deeper than man cares to go. Jesus is not interested in external affirmations, He cares about internal transformation. Jesus reveals this in teaching during the Sermon on the Mount. He dives deeper than a commandment; He examines the motivation behind the action.
Now it all makes sense. Jesus’ words are not vague. They are clearer than ever. Love God with all your heart! True and proper love is the motivation of our lives, and when properly motivated, proper action follows. Idolatry, blasphemy, hatred, immorality, they all subside in light of true and whole-hearted love for God.
So ask yourself today, “Do I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength?” If the answer is yes, show it today by obedience to God. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)