In thinking about the most important principles in scripture, something that may very well come to mind immediately is “the greatest commandment.” In Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV), a Pharisaical expert in Mosaic law asked Jesus to identify “the greatest commandment in the Law.” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and will all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.'” (See also Mark 12:28-31 and Luke 10:25-28)
This commandment is taken from Deuteronomy 6:5, which adds “strength” to how we should love God, as do the gospels of Mark and Luke. The commandment from Deuteronomy appears shortly after God gave the ten commandments to Moses, though it is, interestingly, not one of the ten commandments. Perhaps it’s meant to sum up the ten commandments. In any event, it’s an important principle — perhaps the most important?
When the “greatest commandment” is considered, there is invariably discussion about what it means to love — and then what it means to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. That discussion can be interesting, but also a bit tiresome, maybe unnecessary. Rather than getting into the weeds, it seems to me that the greatest commandment means loving God with all that we are!
If we can love God like that, what else is there? If we love God like that, won’t everything else in scripture about believing, doing, and being become integral parts of our lives? So is the greatest commandment the most important principle in scripture?
It has to be given serious consideration, and we’ll do just that. We’ll return to Deuteronomy 6 tomorrow to consider further the connection between the most important principles and the greatest commandment.
Feel free to weigh in publicly with a comment or privately with an email. And stay tuned.