Reflection from my reading in Matthew 22:23-46 in the One Year Bible New Testament.
My First Hospital Visit
A little over a week ago, I made my first hospital visit as a minister. One of our 21 year old students was diagnosed with leukemia, and when I arrived in his hospital room he was declining fast.
In his waning moments, he was surrounded by friends and family whom he loved and who loved him back. He, along with his family, held a strong faith in God, which remains strong even now. My friend passed away when I was in the room.
At that moment there were many tears, but walking away that night I was struck with a sense of clarity. Life is ALL ABOUT LOVE. Nothing else really matters. I was very grateful that I accepted him and loved him for him, and that he made the choice to love God and commit his life to Christ.
Also, I was motivated to live with renewed passion to give my all for the sake of the gospel. Jesus was asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Matthew 22:36 Here’s his response.
1. Do I love God with all my being?
“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” Matthew 22:37–38
Basically, Jesus said that we are to love God with our WHOLE BEING! In Jewish tradition this is known as the “Shema.” It was a phrase commonly used in Israel. It emphasizes the fact that we must worship God with everything.
- Heart – In the Bible the heart is the control center of our lives. Proverbs 4:23 warns us to, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” In other words, what we let into our hearts trickles down into every area of our lives! If you love God with all of your heart your actions will follow.
- Soul – To love God with your soul is to love him in the deepest part of you.
- Mind – We think most about the things we love most. To love God with your mind means that you think about him constantly.
Loving God is the greatest investment we can make in this short life we get on earth, and that love overflows and gives us love for others!
2. D0 I love my neighbor as myself?
“And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:39–40
It is important that Jesus adds this statement to his answer. It is impossible to truly love God and not love the people he created.
Loving God above all gives us the power to truly love our neighbor as ourselves!
We are all naturally self-centered, and to love someone in the same way you love yourself is much easier to talk about than to do. One of the ways we show our love for God is caring about what he cares about… other people!
Jesus finishes that on these two simple commands you can hang the whole Old Testament. Everything else flows out of loving God first and loving others as yourself.
On your deathbed, how you answer these two questions is what is really going to matter.
Did I love God with all my being?
Did I love my neighbor as myself?
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